NEW METHODS FOR HELPING
CREATE AND RESTORE CORAL REEFS
ARTIFICIAL REEFS - Some look at the placement of man-made objects in the
ocean (on the seafloor, in the water column, or floating on the sea surface) as
hard-surface opportunities for establishment of habitat for all sorts of plant
and animal marine life to form highly complex community food chains.
Others believe dumping junked items in the ocean is just an easy way to dispose
of scrap material - a waste disposal activity under the umbrella of artificial
kinds of material has been sunk and designated as artificial
reefs, such as:
- steel structures
- old wrecked cars
- huge bridges
- old tires
- military tanks
- junked appliances
- old boats
- ballistic missiles
- decommissioned ships
- and obsolete oil rigs!
Thousands of objects have been
purposely sunk offshore in different areas of the ocean; in many cases primarily
to enhance recreational opportunities for saltwater fishing and sport diving.
These activities generate millions of dollars in revenue.
Where environmental laws are in
place (varying laws according to specific areas) these materials should be
environmentally safe and not harmful to ocean species, they should be sunk in
areas where they won't disturb already naturally-occurring habitat, they should
not create hazards for navigation, or create the potential to trap divers or
marine vertebrates. Proponents say that disposing of these items for this
purpose saves landfill space, generates revenue from offshore fishing and
diving, enhances fish stocks, reduces pressure on natural reefs by providing
alternate areas for SCUBA diving and sport fishing, and it is a highly
cost-effective way of getting rid of no-longer-useful objects. Others
point out negative aspects in that
some of those materials have rusted
away, broken loose from storm and wave action, sunken into the sand, and many
have leached and leaked harmful, toxic chemicals into the ocean waters.
Ocean Conservancy - Read their
opinions on the pros and cons of artificial reefs.
The Society for
Ecological Restoration has honored Dr. Thomas J. Goreau and Wolf Hilbertz of the Global
Coral Reef Alliance for their work in the use of solar panels to grow large limestone
structures in the sea which facilitate the growth of corals and provide habitat for fish
and other coral reef species. This method for restoring and creating new coral reefs is
sustainable, environmentally safe, and economically and biologically feasible. Coral
reefs are one of the most complex ecosystems. They are probably the most important marine
ecosystems. They not only protect and nurture sea life, but also protect shorelines from destructive erosion.
(Much more information can be found on the Global Coral Reef Alliance link on