Artificial city

What to know and where to dive them in the United States

There are many types of artificial reefs in the United States and some of them might surprise you – being made of New York City subway cars and tanks.

It has been noted that when the strange and abandoned Dome House in Florida was reclaimed by rising sea levels, it became a popular place for fish and other sea life – it became an artificial reef . There are many artificial reefs in the oceans today, ranging from sunken ships to piles of tires.

If one wishes to visit the largest reefs in the world, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the largest and most impressive reef system in the world. This reef is considered one of the greatest treasures of the natural world. The second largest reef system is the Mesoamerican Reef in the Caribbean.


Create artificial reefs

Many structures form unintended reefs – such as oil and gas platforms, bridges, lighthouses and even offshore wind farms.

When it comes to deliberately constructing reefs, a number of materials have been used to form the environments that many sea creatures need to live and hide. These included cinder blocks, rocks, old tires and wood.

  • Materials: Can be rocks, old tires, wood and cinder blocks

According to National Ocean Service:

These days, several companies specialize in the design, manufacture, and deployment of durable artificial reefs that are typically constructed of limestone, steel, and concrete..”


Boskalis is one of the companies dedicated to this task. They say they are dedicated:

“…provide environmental enrichment solutions in our client offering using artificial reef technology as an enabler for marine infrastructure or coastal protection works

One of the benefits of artificial reefs is that they can provide local economic benefits by attracting fish to particular locations for the benefit of snorkelers, divers and fishermen.

Generally, areas where artificial reefs are created are places where the ocean floor is a featureless bottom. They can also be used to control erosion, block the use of trawls and block the passage of ships. They provide hard surfaces where algae and invertebrates (such as oysters, corals and barnacles) can attach themselves.


Related: Reef Adventures: Places where you can see an entire underwater world just by snorkeling

Sinking of ships as artificial reefs

In the oceans today, shipwrecks are the most common form of artificial reefs.

In 2002, the retired American warship, the USS Grove of Spiegel, was sunk in the waters of Key Largo. At the time of her scuttling, she was the largest ship to have been intentionally sunk to create an artificial reef (she is 510 feet or 155 meters long).

  • USS Grove of Spiegel: Largest ship to be deliberately scuttled to become a reef in 2002

Another ship that was sunk to create a reef was the Thunderbolt in 1986 (she was 120 feet or 36.6 meters long). She was sunk four miles south of Marathon and Key Colony Beach, Florida. Today, instead of being the home of sailors, it is the domain of colorful sponges, corals and hydroids. These support the ocean food chain and create habitat for various sea creatures.


  • Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary: Home to a number of sunken reefs

Many of these ships can be dived and discovered today. You can see how the ocean claims these wrecks. In the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuarya number of these vessels can be found that were sunk to allow diving or even fishing (this was before it was designated as a National Marine Sanctuary).

Related: Why Neptune Memorial Reef Is So Much More Than An Ecosystem

The artificial reefs of Georgia

Georgia has some rather strange artificial reefs. One is that people may not at first glance think of it as being environmentally friendly. These reefs are made up of a whole heap of junk piled up in the ocean, including battle tanks, New York City subway cars, and cargo ships from World War II.


  • Made of: Tanks, NYC subway cars, ships and other things

Much of the continental shelf along the Georgian coast is just a vast sand desert – something like a vast watery sand desert. When the bottom of the ocean is like this. then true biodiversity can’t happen – it happens in the reefs.

  • The 1970s: When Georgia Started Creating Reefs By Dumping Things Into The Ocean

The idea was not that they would form a gigantic lump of rubbish but rather an oasis in the middle of a desert. The junk has been deposited there for the past 50 years.

Georgia’s coastline and weather are quite dynamic and so some of the things there have been changing. Recently, efforts have been made to properly map artificial reefs made by Georgia trash. You can read more about these Georgian reefs on wabe.org.

  • Or: Mainly 6-23 nautical miles offshore
  • Number of reefs: There are 20 artificial reef sites at sea in addition to 8 disused MoD Tactical Aircrew Training System towers and two beach reefs

Most of Georgia’s artificial reefs are between 6 and 23 nautical miles offshore and in 30 to 75 feet of water. In addition, the state has two experimental deep-water reefs in 120 to 170 feet of water 50 to 70 nautical miles offshore depending on Saltstrong.com.

Next: A shocking comparison: 5 photos of the Great Barrier Reef 10 years ago and 5 from today

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