The Pros and Cons of Artificial Reefs


Anyone who has dived on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia will tell you that the beauty of the natural coral reef is incomparable.  The colours, the marine life, even the romance of the location are truly unique and combine to produce the X factor in diving experiences for lovers of extreme sports.

It’s difficult to imagine that an artificial reef could provide the same sense of excitement and anticipation in an extreme sport that thrives on unique experiences.  Yet every year serious diver streams to shipwrecks and other man made reefs with the same enthusiasm they head to the natural reefs.  This begs the question, why choose to visit a rusty old sunken boat (read this to know more) over a naturally occurring reef?

The Fascinating Evolution of a Marine Habitat

Manmade reefs are not a new concept.  The Japanese have been creating them for hundreds of years since the 1600’s as a means of increasing their fish supplies and modern day reefs differ little in their ability to attract and retain marine life.  In fact many have built a living thriving eco system easily comparable to the best of the world’s great reefs.

For serious divers, watching the evolution of these eco systems from a newly sunken vessel to an established marine habitat is a fascinating adventure and amongst the most desirable of diving experiences.  Many return annually, to the same wreck to monitor this evolution first hand.  Here is an opportunity to experience all the ingenuity and survival tactics of nature up close and personal.

There is little doubt that the industrial revolution and the impact of carbon emissions is having a devastating impact on natural marine habitats like Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.  Over fishing, coral mining and other destructive activities are depleting fish supplies throughout the world.  Despite the need for habitat protection for our marine life, the question needs to be asked if we are actually helping or further compromising healthy marine habitats by building artificial reefs.

What about the Environmental Impact of Man Made Reefs?

Opposition to reef development is strong amongst those who question whether nature actually needs help to adapt and survive man’s threats to its existence.  They support their arguments by pointing to constant problems man creates when trying to right previous wrongs against nature and her habitats.

Time may be the only answer to this question, which is polarising scientists, marine biologists, divers and anglers to their own perspective on the topic.  It’s a question that is likely to create much debate for a long time to come.  Whether or not they will contribute to environmental rehabilitation remains to be seen, however it cannot be denied they are a catalyst for attracting and providing protection for fish and other marine life.

The hull of an un-commissioned naval ship makes an awesome habitat crying out to be explored.  Teeming with marine life behind every closed door, can any diver resist the call of the adventure?  Is it any wonder that divers throughout the world, seeking for adrenalin producing extreme sports experience, are just as likely to choose an artificial reef to dive and explore as a naturally occurring one?