Great Barracuda - Sphyraena barracuda

Great Barracuda - Sphyraena barracuda

February 24, 2011

Artificial Reefs

The world's coral reefs range in age from thousands to millions of years-old. Coral polyps are very sensitive to light, currents, pollution, and turbidity. They are very fragile, and they are disappearing. Thus, there is a growing need for conservation, preservation, and repopulation of coral reefs. Reefs, especially those in the Indo-Pacific, are dense in genetic diversity.

Artificial reefs dot most coasts, either by accident or by purpose: ship wrecks, sunken box cars, tankers, naval ships, tires, cement blocks... To certain extent, these artificial reefs are successful. Within days, small invertebrates begin to encrust -- within years, they may be teeming with life. They also provide diving venues and revenue without impacting existing natural reefs. Yes, over time many of these artificial reefs succumb to the ocean and eventually crumble. In the meantime, they provide cover and habitat in the face of disappearing reef habitats.

This is the latest artificial reef to come across the newswire. Initially I was skeptical -- bamboo? Tile? Tile might hold up for some time, but bamboo is entirely organic. The article says the tiles will disolve and the entire structure would be gone within 6 years. What happens to the invertebrates that may have attached themselves? Does the company plan to replace these reefs as they disappear? Is this a waste of time and money? Well, no. Even though these are more short-lived than more durable artificial reefs, they'll at least provide habitat - if even for a few short years.

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