World’s Largest Underwater Sculpture, a Horseshoe Crab, to be Sunk Thursday off Jersey Shore Coast
Ocean County-(PR)–Since 1984, the Bureau of Marine Fisheries has been involved in an intensive program of artificial reef construction and biological monitoring. The purpose is to create a network of artificial reefs in the ocean waters along the New Jersey coast to provide a hard substrate for fish, shellfish and crustaceans, fishing grounds for anglers, and underwater structures for scuba divers.
The DEP has announced that the deployment of a 47-foot sculpture of a horseshoe crab constructed from concrete, originally scheduled for July, has been rescheduled for Thursday, August 30, 2012, on the Axel Carlson Reef. The sculpture is being deployed under the supervision of the DEP as part of the Division’s Artificial Reef Program.
The sculpture, created by scuba instructor and marine biologist Chris Wojcik, will provide habitat for more than 150 species of marine life, a fishing ground for anglers and a unique area for scuba divers to explore. The immense structure, once deployed, will also be recognized by Guinness World Records as the largest underwater sculpture in the world.
Artificial reefs are constructed by intentionally placing dense materials, such as old ships and barges, concrete and steel demolition debris and dredge rock on the sea floor within designated reef sites. At present, the division holds permits for 15 artificial reef sites encompassing a total of 25 square miles of sea floor. The reefs are strategically located along the coast so that 1 site is within easy boat range of 12 New Jersey ocean inlets.
Within each reef site, which range in size from one-half to over four square miles, numerous “patch reefs” have been constructed. A patch reef is a one-half to 5-acre area where one barge load of material has been deployed. In total, over 1200 patch reefs have been constructed on the state’s 15 reef sites since the program began. Reefs are now being used extensively by anglers and divers who catch sea bass, blackfish, porgy and lobster.
Research projects designed to investigate the biology and ecology of ocean reefs completed during the past year included the food habits of black sea bass and the colonization of reef structures by blue mussels, barnacles and other marine invertebrates. Such studies help assess the effectiveness of reef construction efforts in providing habitat for New Jersey’s marine life.
While placing a giant horseshoe crab is unique, creating man-made reefs in New Jersey is not. Since 2006, the NJ DEP has created many artificial reef structures along the Jersey Shore.
In 2011, the retired U.S. Navy destroyer Radford was sunk.
The Arthur W. Radford measures 563 feet in length, 55 feet in beam and displaced more than 9000 tons. Placement of a vessel of this magnitude on an artificial reef provides immediate ecological, recreational and economic benefits. The reef supporting structure is expected to last more than 100 years, providing essential marine habitat and recreational angling and diving opportunities for generations to come.
The Radford Reefing Project was a collaborative effort between the U.S. Navy and the states of New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. The vessel was prepared in such a way that it will immediately become a world class scuba diving and fishing destination. The Radford is a one-of-a-kind artificial reef and its colossal size and diversified structure will appeal to scuba divers of all skill levels. The vessel’s numerous compartments and tens of thousands of nooks and crannies will provide habitat for more than 150 species of fish and marine life and will quickly become a premiere recreational fishing destination
Other items and objects sunk as reefs include old fishing boats, reef balls, subway cars and large concrete castings. The Axel Carlson Reef, located .. is also home to many surplus military tanks. The reef is located 2 nautical miles off the cost of Mantaloking and is four square miles in size, consisting 90% of reef rock at a depth of 66 to 80 feet.
Photo Courtesy NJ DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife, via Pt. Pleasant Patch.