Artificial Reefs: Good for Conservation or More Trash in Our Oceans?

By February 1, 2011Ocean News

David Guggenheim wonders whether there is a conservation benefit of artificial reefs. Artificial reefs are structures that humans add in the Oceans with hopes that Ocean life such as corals, oysters, and mussels (as well as other reef forming organisms) will gather and flourish. The structures are usually in the form of sunken old ships and/or old oil platforms. In other words, the structures are trash. Some people feel that its trash being dumped in the Oceans, while others think it is trash being recycled and used for good conservation measures. Either way, artificial reefs are in the Oceans and many divers and fishermen hail them as new wonders of the Ocean and they do attract life. David references a National Geographic article, in which National Geographic photographer David Doubilet takes phenomenal photographs of artificial reefs that are teeming with life.

So what is the controversy if these reefs attract diverse species? Well for one, there is a possibility that the metal structures can contribute to toxic metals in the Ocean, which can affect any of the species that colonize the reefs. There is also the fact that barnacles, mussels, oysters, and clams are filter feeders, which filter food particles from the water column. These particles potentially bind with toxic metals and accumulate in the filter feeders. The filter feeders are collected by fisherman and sold on the market. Could it be a problem for some consumers, potentially. Selected artificial reefs could have more toxic metals in the water depending on the structure. Of course, I could be wrong. I haven’t really done the research on the probability of metal poisoning in filter feeders. It’s just one of the potential dangers of fishing on an artificial reef and the conservation value of an artificial reef

What is your opinion on artificial reefs? Do you think they are just decorated trash or a valuable recycling program? Speak UP!

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