A Teenager's Action Over Excuses – Building a Sustainable Artificial Reef in Pondicherry


Protecting the oceans and marine ecosystems is absolutely vital for survival. Not only do healthy oceans act as food sources, but they also regulate climate change and have various benefits to human life as well. We all have to play our part in conserving, protecting, and restoring them, especially as divers!

Let’s talk about a young teenage girl from Mumbai, Maya Pillai – a budding conservationist – who collaborates with us and the Temple Reef Foundation for marine conservation projects.  She spent a lot of time at Temple Adventures and is India’s youngest female Master SCUBA diver. She is literally one in a billion! Maya’s passion for marine conservation, particularly coral restoration, comes from her encounter with bleached and dying corals. Along with her older brother Siddharth Pillai, she resolved to contribute to their preservation for a safe and viable future in any way they could. This resulted in constructing the Bennington’s Reef in 2019. Now, Maya has come up with a one-of-a-kind idea to build a sustainable artificial reef. Read on to be amazed!

Sustainable Artificial Reef Project

Maya is trialing a new variant of the Bennington Reef’s modules for a sustainable artificial reef comprising an eggshell mixture. Kudos to Maya for coming up with this incredible concept!

Maya adopted a rural school in early 2020 to conduct a malnutrition control program, where the school provides free eggs to every student to improve malnutrition markers. As a result, she faced a huge amount of egg waste that could not be simply disposed of, as it is biohazardous. So, she powdered the shells and mixed them with Portland cement to construct a sustainable artificial reef! Now the new modules contain sand, pebbles, cement, and 10% of the eggshell mix and are stabilized with iron rebars. Temple Adventures and TRF have placed the prototypes to test their sustainability and monitor coral growth.

The reef has already started attracting marine life and does have the potential to be stepping stones for similar projects. Also here’s a quick reminder, if you felt a bit lost with our references to Bennington’s Reef Project.

Bennington’s Reef Project

Maya and her brother, Siddharth Pillai – also a rising conservationist – first developed a patented design of modular artificial reef for coral growth. Their parents provided the initial capital to kick the project off. But to produce enough modules to cover the coastline, they required more money. The brother-sister duo resorted to crowdfunding where they raised over INR 2 Lakhs. It’s encouraging to know that there are people out who care, isn’t it?? Bennington’s Reef’s named after the late lead singer of the rock band Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington. Just like Linkin Park, this reef also rocks!

Siddharth 3D-printed the first experimental module, followed by building more blocks with moulded frames. Maya, Siddharth, Temple Adventures and TRF placed 200 cement-dolomite blocks at the famed Temple Reef dive site.  While Bennington’s Reef cannot stop coral bleaching, it has certainly become a habitat for various marine life. The siblings hope to see some soft coral growth on the structures soon.

We, at Temple Adventures, wished to make a difference by involving ourselves and the general public in marine conservation activities. For that sole purpose, we founded the Temple Reef Foundation (TRF) in 2017.  Since then, we’ve made great progress in terms of outreach and practical applications in terms of conservation. From coastal clean-ups to building artificial reefs to environmental education and outreach, we do it all!  We also recommend and enjoy teaching the half-day PADI Project Aware course, to educate divers on the steps to be taken to protect the ocean planet.

What sets Temple Adventures apart from many other dive centres in India? Is it because we’re a 5 Star premier PADI SCUBA diving centre in Pondicherry? Yes, absolutely! But we also stand out due to our deep-rooted commitment to the preservation of our seas. We constantly better ourselves from previous achievements such as building Temple Reef, by collaborating with passionate ocean-lovers like Maya. We have also initiated the Reef Rebuilding programme, with Maya and Siddharth’s help, so that we can all make a difference! So, would you like to join us? ?