artificial reef and wrecks summary

Thu Mar 9 10:02:31 EST 2000

A sufficient number of people requested this that I'm sending it via the list - apologies for those who don't want it.

IUCN is not involved in the proposed activities in Dar es Salaam harbour - I am just providing information and contacts.

Also, for hopeful students - I'm afraid IUCN is not an academic organisation and we don't have any research opportunities here.

Thanks again to everyone for their help - it has been greatly appreciated in Dar.


I am going to begin soon a survey of ship wrecks as artificial reefs along
the coast of Sinai funded by the National Geographic Society. You are
certainly aware about Wilhelmsson et al. 1998 paper, which appeared in
Ambio 27: 764-766. It deals with artificial reefs in Eilat.  

Professor Yehuda Benayahu
Dept. of Zoology
Tel Aviv University
Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv
69978 Israel
denlit at

Phone (office): 972-3-6409090
Phone (home): 972-9-9514443
Fax: 972-3-6409403

Contact Jim Bohnsack, NMFS/NOAA Fisheries Biologist at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center, (305) 361-4252 X252 or jim.bohnsack at for a good artificial reef & fisheries perspective.

The two people who I feel have the most practical experience with respect to
artificial reefs are the coordinators of the Texas and Louisiana artificial
reef programs here in the Gulf of Mexico.  These two programs contain
_hundreds_ of artifical reefs of all types, including (but not limited to)
Ships, Flyash Blocks, Oil and Gas Platform Jackets, Concrete Tunnel
sections, and Concrete Rubble.

The contacts are:

Jan Culbertson
Texas Parks and Wildlife 
Artificial Reef Program Program Coordinator 
jan.culbertson at 
(US) (281) 461-4064

Rick Kasprzak
Loisiana Artificial Reef Program Coordinator
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
(US) (504) 765-2375


The Texas Artificial Reef Program uses ships for reefs.  We have 12 liberty
ships one tugboat and one navy barge.  we are also working on getting
another ship cleanup and made into a reef - The Clipper.  All of these ships
require cleaning and lots of it.  Some older vessels built before 1989 were
constructed using PCBs in the wiring insulation, paint and gaskets on the
vessel.  They are expensive to clean up.  Other things to think about are
asbestos insulation and fuel in tanks and hidden compartments.  I am the
coordinater for our program and do not recommend them to be used.  However,
political pressure is another thing to think about as well as economics.
Right now, we have increased pressure to use these ships and some of our
ships have been down for over 25 years.  If you need historic info from ship
wrecks off the coast of Texas please contact Barto Arnold who serves as an
advisor on our citizen's committee and is an expert in the field of historic
values of ship wrecks.  His email adress is barnold at 

Jan Culbertson
Texas Parks and Wildlife 
Artificial Reef Program Program Coordinator 
jan.culbertson at 
(US) (281) 461-4064


I don't know how relevant their info would be, Southampton University had
an extensive artificial reef research program.  It was more designed around
using block created from waste material, rather than shipwrecks though.

Here in Bermuda, we have a lot of shipwrecks!  Whilst some have been sunk
on purpose (one to block a channel to prevent sneak attacks during wartime,
one for recreational SCUBA diving and the most recent as a combined
fisheries enhancement project and dive site) most have just happenned.  In
all cases where significant superstructure remains, there are lots of fish.
Whether these are an additional resource as a result of increased
recruitment due to the increase in available habitat (seems unlikely with
all the reef structure we have in Bermuda) or simply aggregations of
existing fishes is, as ever, open to debate.  There was a meeting on the
topic in 1987, with all the papers published in volume 44 (2) of the
Bulletin of Marine Science in 1989.  This contains examples from all over
the world, and of course the addresses of the researchers - although these
may have changed over the past 10 years!  There may have been more meetings
since, but 1990 was the last time I was really involved in the subject.

When the Xing Da - our most recent wreck - was sunk, there were a number of
concerns over the siting.  Things to consider include:

Whether the wreck will interfere with local migratory patterns - the
on/off-shore movements of lobsters in the area had to be taken into
consideration when siting the Xing Da

Exposure of the area - how likely it is that storm surge might move the
wreck from its intended site.  And in the event of any movement, will any
other existing resources nearby be at risk?

What is the primary aim - fisheries enhancement (commercial or recreational
fishing, direct or indirect enhancement) or diving for tourism/recreation?
These considerations will influence:
1) the distance from local centres - do you want access to be easy (diving,
rec. fishing), difficult (if the reef is to be an indirect resource for
local fisheries, but is not actually to be open to fishing itself) or in
between (commercial fishing).
2) proximity to other reef habitats - fairly close (if you simply require
an aggregative function for divers or rec. fishers) or further away (close
enough to receive larvae from existing reefs but well beyond the range at
which it will influence adult fish, so it will serve to add to resources
rather than merely re-arrange them).
3) whether mooring buoys will be provided in the area, how big they will be
and whether they will carry warnings (depending on whether the site is
'open' or 'closed' to fishing, and whether it is intended for recreational
or commercial purposes).
4) whether any structural alterations need to be made in the interests of
vessel safety (e.g. removing masts etc. that might extend into surface
waters and prove hazardous to shipping).
5) depth/current regime of the site - obviously a consideration if the
wreck is to be used as a recreational diving location.  If you are trying
to attract specific fish or types of fish for a fishery, the site must have
a suitable depth/current regime etc.

Safety of the superstructure if the wreck will be a dive site - how likely
is it that the wreck might break up?  Are there any areas where a diver
might be trapped, that should possibly be sealed off?

In addition, it is important to consider how much of the machinery will be
removed (oily engine parts and all fuel and lubricants should be removed to
avoid contamination of the area), and then how the hull will be towed to
the site if it no longer has a functioning engine.

Joanna Pitt, Ph.D.
Benthic Ecology Program
Bermuda Biological Station for Research
Ferry Reach,  Bermuda
jopitt at

I Manage Marine Resources for
a local govt in Southeast Florida and have been involved in artificial reefs
for many years. Much of that experience is with ships and boats. We
also have an extensive research program.  I would be happy to share
with you any information or experience that i can.
Ken Banks


Expert in the Keys:

Benjamin D. Haskell
Science Coordinator
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
P.O. Box 500368
Marathon, FL 33050
(305) 743-2437 fax 743-2357
ben.haskell at 

very friendly and knowladgeable, yet not tropical, are the 
people at The Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia (ARSBC)
home page 

Nadav Shashar  - Ph.D.
The Interuniversity Inst. of Eilat
P.O. Box 469
Eilat, 88103     Israel
Phone: (972)-7-6360123 (direct) 
(972)-7-6360114 (lab)  
(972)-7-6360111 (main office)
Fax: (972)-7-6374329 
E-mail: nadavs at 

I have worked in the artificial reef/benthic habitat enhancement field for 30+ years, from the south Pacific to Hawaii to (mostly) temperate northwest ecosystems, with some experience in Florida.

Raymond Buckley, Ph.D.
Research Scientist
Fish Program/Science Division
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Phone: (360) 902-2828    Fax: (360) 902-2944

Affiliate Assistant Professor
College of Ocean and Fishery Sciences
University of Washington

Associate Research Scientist
Cambridge Coastal Research Unit
University of Cambridge, UK

Dr. Richard Spieler is conducting research on wrecks in Broward Co.
Florida.  His email address is:  Spielerr at .  If he is
unresponsive then I would be glad to assist you in any way.  I am his
student and will be conducting most of the surveys.

Lance K. B. Jordan	
Graduate Research Assistant		
Nova Southeastern University          Phone: (954) 262-3619
Oceanographic Center                  Fax: (954) 262-4098
8000 N. Ocean Drive                   Email: jordanl at   
Dania, FL 33004                       PC Email: lancesmail at 


We have an artificial reef program here.  I spend a bit of time on it.  It has no funding, but with volunteers and donated stuff, and an occasional free barge trip or tow by the Coast Guard barge, we are moving forward.  Over
the years, we have deployed tires, ceramic pipes, concrete cylinders (5-8 tons), fiberglass tubes (6m), and two boats.

I have been writing annual progress reports on our artificial reef program since maybe 1994 or so (I got here in 1993).  We use artificial reefs to (1) deter illegal fishing, (2) stop shrimp trawlers from fishing fish trap
areas, and (3) to increase complexity of habitat (much of Bahrain benthic substrate is very flat limestone pavement with little relief).   Last year we put down two boats.  One was a fiberglass wood hull (19m) donated by the
Coast Guard.  The other was a 15 m lightboat.  We loaded both with concrete filled tires.

By the way, we spend a bunch of time deploying submerged anti-driftnet hooks to entertain illegal driftnetters.  These were originally anchored with our artificial reefs, but we have expanded and now anchor to large rocks (>1 m
diamter).  Driftnetters don't fish the fish traps areas much now days.  They have moved to deeper water.  At least we don't get a dozen trap fishermen complaining each week about hundreds of lost traps.

Anyway, we have lots of video and local reports.  FYI, there should be an artificial reef meeting here in late March.  I won't be here (annual leave), but have written an overview paper and am now working on my 15 minute video

K. Roger Uwate, Ph.D.
Directorate of Fisheries
P.O. Box 20071
rogeru at


For recent very successful work in HK, try Keith Wilson <kdwilson at>

Keith's involved in an artificial reef project in Tolo Harbour, Hong Kong, where several fishing vessels
(with masts complete and fuel oil removed) were sunk in a controlled manner to exclude
trawling etc in an agreed area. Seems to be very successful.


For the Northern Territory, Australia, Phil Hall (phil.hall at is
the man in-charge of the artificial reef program, and while he knows a fair bit
about them there is no research/monitoring program associated.

Dave Pollard at New South Wales Fisheries has been interested in artificial
reefs for some years and could be a good contact him for some of the
ecological/fishery assessment issues - he's on pollardd at

As head man for fisheries habitats, same department, you could try Darell Grey
(greyd at who used to be the Head of fisheries research in the Northern Territory when most of our
local artificial reefs were established.


We have video showing a wreck in relatively deep water (400 m) west of the Shetland Islands
that has become colonised by the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa.
The colonies have grown to over 1 m in height. The wreck was sunk in
the first world war by a German U-boat and seems to be forming a
deep-water artificial reef. Interestingly, this species of coral has
also been identified on North Sea oil platform structures including
the infamous Brent Spar oil storage buoy (see New Scientist 2211: 16,
Nature 402: 601 and Nature 403: 242).

J Murray Roberts
Scottish Association for Marine Science
PO Box 3, Oban, Argyll, PA34 4AD, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1631-559241
Fax: +44 (0)1631-565518
e-mail: m.roberts at 


The American Samoa government, Coast Guard and NOAA) are in the process of disposing of nine longliners that have littered our harbor*s reef flat since 1991.  We are dumping two of them whole in deep (greater than 1 kilometer), which isn*t exactly artificial reef area.  However, other boats have been dumped in shallower (90-100 ft) water in the past 20 years and are making rather pretty substrate and good dive sites.  More boats will come,
I*m sure, and we need to begin developing a policy about how to deal with the hulks.

Nancy Daschbach
Nancy.Daschbach at


Check with Bob Ditton at Texas A&M University Dept of Wildlife &
Fisheries Sciences.  He has done some interesting work looking at the
economic impact associated with fishermen & divers using artificial reefs.

Carl Beaver
Center for Coastal Studies
Texas A&M University Corpus Christi

Sue Wells
Co-ordinator, E.A. Marine Programme
IUCN Eastern African Regional Office
P.O. Box 68200
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 2 890605
Fax: +254 2 890615
e-mail: smw at
(home tel: +254 2 891499) 

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