From Trash To Treasure- Artificial Reefs Uncovered

At first glance, what appears to look like the military trying to save costs in disposing of old garbage is actually an attempt to promote and save our marine ecology . How you may ask? Well, we’ve seen old ship wrecks and other large metal structures, when submerged in the deep dark depths below, provide a safe heaven for hundreds of marine life, slowly but steadily promoting the growth of coral. With these shipwrecks redeeming marine ecological value, people are looking at other ways some that may seem quite strange or unusual to consciously create what is known as Artificial Reefs.

Articial reefs - From trash to treasures

Here’s a look at some unusual Artificial Reefs that may or may not have worked, nonetheless make for some good scuba diving

The Subway Car Reefs: The Redbird Reef, Delaware & The Atlantic City Reef, Atlantic City
While it comes as no big surprise to see shipwrecks underwater, not one or two but 700 odd sunken New York City subway cars is a sight to be seen. And to see them first hand all you have to do is travel to The Redbird Reef, off the coast of Slaughter Beach, Delaware.

articial reefs- the redbird reef, sunken subway cars

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, responsible for this programme (which was doubted at first) was successfully able to repopulate this area with fish and other marine species, thanks to the crafty use of these wagons. In fact, a 400-fold increase in the amount of plankton and small baitfish is drawing in the larger fish at such a rate that it’s a struggle to find more old subway cars to sink. The Redbird reef site began in 1996 and got its name from the “Redbird” paint-schemed subway cars donated by New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 2001. Delaware now has 14 permitted artificial reef sites which consist of concrete structures, decommissioned military vehicles, sunken vessels, among the old subway cars.

The Atlantic City Reef, one of the oldest artificial reefs in existence today, made up of several man-made objects ranging from large ships to army tanks that have been sunk strategically around the waters too features subway cars because of the success of the 2001 program. In November 2008, more than 40 subway cars were placed in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 10 miles southeast of Ocean City, Maryland to serve as artificial reefs, which are critical in supporting a diversity of species along the Maryland coast. (Read more in: Dive in a New York Brightliner Subway Car in Atlantic City)

The Tire Reef: The Osborne Reef, Florida

Artificial reefs- the osborne tire reef

This artificial reef made up of a wreckage of an old 60 foot barge, tires and concrete erojacks or dolos has been plagued by a series of ups and downs and has been both praised and criticized by environmentalists since the 70’s. The Boward Artificial Reef Inc which had successfully created artificial reefs in several countries with the support of the US Army Corps of Engineers, deposited over two million tires bound by steel clips over 36 acres of the ocean floor at a depth of 65 feet underwater. The project was a disaster as very little marine life migrated to the artificial reef, and those that did, didn’t stay long. (Read More in: Dive The Osborne Artificial Reef Florida)

The Concrete Sculpture Reef: Cancun National Park, Mexico

Articial reefs - underwater museum, Cancun National Park

The Mexican Government recently commissioned the creation of an underwater museum featuring sculptures created by renowned British underwater sculptor Jason de Caires Taylor, using a PH Neutral concrete to design them. The intent behind the 400 sculptures of figurines that the museum will feature is to encourage algae and coral to freely grow on the concrete which will cause these sculptures to change appearance over time and form an artificial ecosystem where tiny fish and marine creatures can thrive. (Read more in: The World’s Largest Underwater Museum is Underway)

*Photo Credits: photos by U.S. Army Environmental Command, tiswango on flickr and


  1. Hermitbiker says:

    …. excellent, artificial reefs made from waste…. cool !! 🙂

  2. Human sculpture circle is very bizarre…

  3. The Concrete Sculpture Reef is a very cool idea, but how many people are really going to be able to enjoy it?

  4. I think the Concrete Sculpture Reef is a joke on future archaeologists.

  5. We've been working on an Artificial reef project in Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica. It for the aquatic life and not so much for the surfers. We're the first of our kind to get approved by the Costa Rican government. If you're interested, come and take a look. We just put our website up a few weeks ago.

    Cool site you've got going here, and good info. Feel free to link to us!

    Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

  6. Here's the instructable from our artificial reef project in PLaya Hermosa, Costa Rica. I just put it up.

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