Electrically stimulated artificial mussel (Mytilus edulis) reefs to create shoreline protection and coastal habitat in St. Margaret’s Bay, Nova Scotia.
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Infrastructure designed to protect coastal environments, such as seawalls, can have adverse effects on the area they are supposed to protect. Hard shore armouring can be expensive, disrupt hydrodynamic processes, eventually rebuilding, and impact the surrounding marine environment. Artificial reef structures built with mineral accretion technology (MAT) grow stronger over time and improve corals' and other reef-forming organisms such as blue mussels, growth, and survival. MAT reef structures develop through the seawater electrolysis reaction. By adding a current to a sacrificial anode, an electrical field envelops a cathode (the steel artificial reef structure), causing dissolved minerals to accrete. Seeding MAT installations with shellfish such as blue mussels add ecosystem services such as improved water quality through filtration and complex habitat creation to the reef structure. A literature review was conducted to determine the feasibility of a proposed MAT installation in St. Margaret's Bay, Nova Scotia, an atypical coldwater region with low dissolved carbonate mineral levels, to benefit blue mussel habitat construction. The ability to grow engineered living breakwaters with little electrical input and locally accessible materials presents a sustainable, cost-effective solution for coastal communities that require shoreline protection and marine habitat reconstruction. Keywords: Biorock™, Blue Mussel, Reef, Living Shoreline, Shoreline Protection, Marine Habitat Reconstruction, Mineral Accretion Technology, Engineered Living Breakwater