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US Virgin Islands to build artificial reef to bolster coastal defense against future storms

The U.S. Virgin Islands is set to construct its first artificial reef near the coast of St. Thomas to enhance coastal protection and resilience against future storms.

The U.S. Virgin Islands will soon build its first artificial reef to protect its coasts and help the U.S. territory become more resilient ahead of future storms, officials announced Thursday.

The 18-foot by 12-foot reef will be installed near the coast around St. Thomas and is expected to be completed by July, according to the islands' department of planning and natural resources.

The project will be funded by more than $760,000 in federal money awarded to the University of the Virgin Islands after hurricanes Irma and Maria pounded the U.S. territory in 2017.

RARE CORAL REEF IN PRISTINE CONDITION FOUND IN DEEP WATERS NEAR TAHITI

Jean-Pierre L. Oriol, the department's commissioner, said university officials are choosing the strongest specimens from more than a dozen types of coral in nurseries to attach to the artificial reef. He said officials are working with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts to create an environmentally sensitive design.

"The goal is to provide enhanced habitat for corals struggling from climate change and provide added shoreline protection as we work to restore natural coral reefs," said Marilyn Brandt, project manager and a research professor at University of the Virgin Islands.

CORAL REEF THE SIZE OF THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING FOUND OFF AUSTRALIA'S COAST

The project comes as oceans grow warmer, leading to more powerful Atlantic hurricanes.

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