There are many artificial reefs around the world and there are different reasons as to why these have been created.  The three main reasons are:

  • Accidents, for example when a ship sinks during a storm
  • Purposeful sinkings, for example ships or boats

Artificial reefs are a great way to study how nature takes over and new corals grow, but they are also a fantastic way to help an environment that is under threat, for example due to coral bleaching or pollution.


Artificial Reefs in Florida

Florida is one of the places in the world where you will find the largest amount of artificial reefs.  The world’s largest and the world’s second largest artificial reefs can be found here, from the purposeful sinking of the USS Oriskany and the USS Hoyt S. Vandeberg respectively. 

These ships have proven to be particularly successful in attracting divers that would normally visit the natural reefs and destroy them, even when this is not done on purpose.

The Osborn Reef is one of the most interesting reefs, however.  It was created by sinking over two million car wrecks off the coast of Fort Lauderdale. 

This turned out to be a major disaster, as the tires had not been removed from the cars, nor had they been secured.  This means that they broke loose and were caught by the current, destroying much of the natural reef in the process. 

Considering there were four times 2 million tires, it may come as a surprise that by 2009, only 100,000 tires had been removed.  This turned out to be a real ecological disaster.

Materials Used in Artificial Reefs

Anything manmade can be used in artificial reefs.  For divers, wrecks are usually the most interesting ones, but there are plenty of other materials that are used, including:

Benefits of Artificial Reefs

There are many benefits to artificial reefs. As stated earlier, they provide a great opportunity for marine biologists and other underwater scientists to see how nature develops and to see how reefs attract species of fish. 

It also, allows nature to restore itself, for example if the original reef has been destroyed by fishing, pollution or anchoring.

Another great thing about artificial reefs is that they attract a great source of revenue for the surrounding area in tourism. 

Tourism is one of the biggest industries in the world, and diving is quickly becoming a massive part of that. 

Artificial reefs are fascinating places to go for divers, regardless of the materials that are used.  Although traditionally most divers prefer to wreck diving more and more are now becoming interested in all sorts of artificial reefs. 

Many do this because it is interesting to see an underwater world developing, but many also do it because they want to make an active contribution towards improving the environment, for example by taking part in the identification of newly formed corals or fish counts.

Artificial Reefs and Electro Mineral Accretion

EMA (Electro Mineral Accretion) is a process whereby a low voltage current is applied to metallic structures, which makes the limestone crystallize on the surface.  Coral planulae are then enable to attach themselves to these crystals and start to grow. 

EMA also speeds up growth once the coral is attached.  This system works so well and is so eco friendly (it can run on very small solar panels on the surface) that further studies are currently taking part to use the same system to restore existing reefs that have been destroyed.

Generally, those who are fighting towards conserving and repairing the environment are very much in favour of the creation of artificial reefs. 

However, concerns are raised by some due to accidents such as the one on the Osborn Reef.  It is felt that human error will always be a factor and could actually cause more damage to the environment itself. 

Many artificial reefs are created close to the shoreline, where existing reefs still remain, and a slight miscalculation can mean that these are destroyed completely, defeating the object of the creation of an artificial reef.

In the main, however, it is recognized that the creation of artificial reefs is a very good initiative, particularly if old materials are used, as this is a form of recycling materials that would otherwise end back up on the environment as waste rather than an option to regrow the world.

I think we can come to the conclusion Artificial reefs help nature to restore itself. We would like to know; Have you ever been SCUBA diving on a Artificial reef? Feel free to leave your comments below.

What are your thoughts about artificial reefs?
Let us know in the comments below

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Blog written by: Rutger Thole who is an avid scuba diver and loves to travel, dive and write about
scuba diving. Based in Amsterdam he runs and at least twice a year he plans a dive trip of the beaten track.

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This article is published by The Scuba Page, the online magazine for Scuba Dive lovers around the world. The Scuba Page is part of RUSHKULT : the online booking platform for adventure sports. Visit the RUSHKULT platform to book your next Scuba Dive training, guided trip and accommodation.

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