The rise of artificial reefs

With the degradation of natural reefs there has become an unparalleled need to supply marine life with refuge. Governments and marine biologists have joined forces to create multiple artificial reefs along the Australian coast. While these man made reefs need time to allow coral and marine species to thrive, there is now a foundation for the process which will benefit both marine species and humans alike through tourism and a healthy ecosystem. Here are some examples of artificial reefs emplaced in waters surrounding the country.


Dunphy Artificial Reef

Australia’s largest offshore artificial reef complex was constructed and installed off the southern Sydney coastline in October 2017. The reef named in honour of the late John Dunphy is located in a depth of 30 metres approximately 2.5 km south east of Jippon Point near Port Hacking and consists of 36 x 25 tonnes concrete modules.

The artificial reefs are designed to stay intact for many decades creating a protected fish habitat for divers and fishermen alike. DPI the construction company plans to create 5 sites over the next years including the sites in Tweed Heads, Newcastle, Wollongong and Jervis Bay.


King Reef

King Reef is located 3.5 nautical miles north of Exmouth in Western Australia and is easily accessible for boat divers. The reef has been named King Reed in honour of Marine Surveyor Philip King. It has been claimed that engineered reefs have been scientifically shown to be productive and support 20 times more fish than surrounding ecosystem.

The Queensland Government has established seven artificial reefs in Moreton Bay Marine Park, at a cost of $2.5 million. These reefs provide recreational anglers and divers with a range of exciting areas to pursues their activities in the marine park.


Simpson and Hardie Artificial Reefs

In May 2015, the Queensland Government established Simpson Artificial Reef and Hardie Artificial Reef in the Great Sandy Marine Park. These reefs provide recreational anglers and divers with a dive site that while may take time, in the future has the opportunity to create a rich ecosystem,.Each reef structure is made of steel reinforced with concrete. It has a large internal volume of 80 cubic metres, measures 4m x 4m x 5m and weighs 23 tonne. The combined modules form vertical relief and cellular spaces that create complex habitats and allow the reef structures to permanently recruit sustainable populations of target species, such as reef fish, pelagic fish and crustaceans.

Simpson Artificial Reef is located in waters near the Outer Banks, 7nm from Urangan Marina in Hervey Bay. It is named after Woody Island’s first head lighthouse keeper Mr John Simpson. During construction, fifteen reef structures were distributed over an 80ha area in five clusters, to a depth of 10-16m. Each cluster is made up of three reef structures.

Hardie Artificial Reef is located 2nm north-east of Little Woody Island. The artificial reef is named after Woody Island’s longest serving head lighthouse keeper, Mr Peter Hardie. During construction, fifteen reef structures were distributed over 160ha in five clusters, to a depth of 10–16m. Each cluster is made up of three reef structures.

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Curtin Artificial Reef

Probably one of the most spectacular reefs for scuba divers is Curtin Artificial Reef, located in the heart of Moreton Bay. The reef project was started in 1968 by the Underwater Research Group of Queensland. The reef is made up of about 32 vessels, barges, car, tyres and other items. The largest vessel is an old coal barge, the Bremer, measuring about 50m in length.  The depth along the reef site varies from about 11m to 28m. Curtin Reef has also become a fantastic habitat for marine life.

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Gold Coast Dive Attraction

The Gold Coast will be home to the latest artificial reef as early as in 2020. The city leaders are currently working on an eco-engineered world-class dive attraction that is likely to be different than any other artificial reef. The site will be located just off Main Beach near the existing Scottish Prince Shipwreck in about 30m of water. Details of the design are yet to be released.

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