Artificial Reef Program

The New Smyrna Beach area is undoubtedly naturally beautiful, but we also work hard at it too! One amazing way we enhance our waters and maximize conservation is through the Volusia County Artificial Reef Program.

Way back when, “The New World” was not the only colonization happening. Artificial Reefs have been around for hundreds of years here and across the globe. It all started long ago when mariners discovered that fish show up in large quantities around sunken vessels. In fact, once an artificial reef is created, bait fish appear within hours. Then larger fish, such as grouper and snapper, are soon to follow. Within a few months, coral, sponges and barnacles typically adhere to the hard structure and sand sediments can become home to sand dollars, sea stars and other invertebrates.

Once those olden day sailors realized that certain objects placed along the sea floor can almost become immediately colonized by marine life, the experimentation with artificial reefs began in earnest. A few examples include the South Carolina shoreline inhabitants who attempted to use old or damaged log huts, which didn’t last long. In the 1950s, railroad cars, car bodies, porcelain fixtures and even appliances were dropped along the sea floor.

No longer resembling those junkyards of days gone by, modern artificial reef materials and their placement are carefully researched to ensure that they will never harm sea life or pollute our waters. Today, items such as steel hulls of ships, military surplus and recycled concrete are strategically placed along our sea floors to foster marine life with artificial reefs.

Not only do these well planned artificial reefs improve marine life, but they can ease pressure on natural reefs and our landfills. A flourishing marine environment also fosters our fishing, diving, boating and tourism industries.

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