Artificial Reefs

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Usually reefs are placed in areas that are flat and featureless to develop a new area for marine life. Larval encrusting organisms ( mussels, barnacles, sponges, corals etc) cannot attach to smooth sand, but they can attach to metal and concrete. Fish account for only 4.5% of the organisms on a reef. Most of the reef is made up of encrusting organisms, tube worms, anemones and other invertebrates. the reefs also dissipate underwater currents and forms eddies which make it easier for fish to feed.

It is the responsibility of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to regulate the construction and maintenance of fishing reefs and fishing attractors in waters of the United States including the waters that overlay the outer continental shelf

Many species require structure to live. this includes seabass and tautog. These fish hide in the reef structure for safety. They feed on reef organisms such as mussels , crabs and worms.Reefs also attract schooling baitfish which linger there for a while and move off. Pelagic fish such as bluefish, sharks, cobia and amberjack cruise the reefs looking for food.

Reef location is water depth dependent. There must be sufficient clearance to have high profile structures on the bottom. wave action is shallow water also will cause structures to be covered by sand and silt.

Reef Balls

Reef Balls" are concrete fish habitats designed by a firm in Sarasota, Florida and are used worldwide to build ocean artificial reefs. They are igloo-shaped and hollow and have over a dozen access holes for fish. Measuring 4 feet in diameter and 3 feet high, they weigh 1,400 pounds each.

These designed habitats are expected to maximize use by fish, especially those species, like tautog and sea bass, that hide under ledges or in caverns. The internal cavity will also provide juvenile fish refuge from larger, ocean predators. To further enhance their value as sanctuary habitat, the Reef Balls will be widely dispersed on the sea floor.

The reef balls provide a place for marine invertebrates like mussels, tube worms and sponges to attach. In 2-3 years the structures will be covered by these creatures.This draws crabs , shrimp, starfish, worms and snails. Fish then come and use the structures as refuge from predators and a place to feed on the smaller inhabitants. Bait fish are drawn to the area by currents forced upward by the structures which bring plankton to the surface.

Fish counts show as many as 19 fish on each reef ball area.



Tires have been used on many artificial reefs in the past especially in Florida and North Carolina. they are no longer used as they have not proved to be stable. Many stacks of tires were bound by nylon bands which broke and allowed the tires to migrate over the ocean bottom . In Fl and NC storms break the tires loose and deposit them on the beaches. marine life also has found it hard to attach to the tires. They are no longer an acceptable reef material

Other reef materials

Rock- from small rocks to boulders to create piles and hills

Demolition concrete from bridges, piers etc.

Concrete castings- culverts ,pipes, and other prefab structures- the holes and odd shapes allow fish to hide in them easily.

Subway cars especially redbird cars are used with windows and doors removed, On average 300 fish will inhabit these structures. Studies have shown that they become stable reef enviroment.

Sunken vessels of all types.

Obsolete military vehicles- tanks Armoured personnel carriers(APC) and others

EPA reef guide

Fishing a reef


New Jersey has many reefs and most are close to shore. There are 2 offshore reefs, one of which is shared with Delaware and Maryland

Georgia has both inshore and off shore reefs. They are listed separately. There is also a marine sanctuary and 2 naval towers off the coast.

Maryland upper bay reefs

Maryland Bay reefs

Maryland Upper Bay reefs Pooles Island Artificial Reef   Upper bay NE of Hart-Miller Island concrete rubble latitude longitude 39.14.37 76.17.48

Maryland Artificial Reefs

20 sites in Chesapeake Bay 10 sites in the ocean Maryland Reef Plan   Bay Reefs Cedarhurst reef Cedarpoint reef Chesapeake beach reef Choptank river Crisfield reef Dolly

Great Eastern Artificial Reef

20 nm SE of R-2 buoy sand bottom debris vessels latitude longitude corners 38.12.000 74.44.500 38.13.000 74.43.300 38.12.060 74.44.450 38.12

Gale's Lump Artificial Reef

silt bottom below Tolchester in Bay quarry stone concrete culverts and rubble

Dolly's Lump Artificial Reef

below Sandy point in bay concrete pipe

Crisfield Artificial Reef

North of buoy “R6” known as Fox Island Buoy granite rock piles Latitude Longitude rocks 37.55.588 75.56.586 rocks 37.55.578 75.56.561 roc

CedarPoint Artificial Reef

Patuxent River sandy bottom rockpiles reef balls fiberglass concrete  latitude longitude 38.18.43 76.22.43

Bass Grounds Artificial Reef

9 nm E of R-2 buoy sand bottom reef is in 2 sections plus a 3rd section of subway cars debris vessels designed units … latitude longitude corners of first section 38.17.43

African Queen Artificial Reef

13 nm SE of “R-2” buoy. It consists of an existing wreck, various vessels, specially designed units and debris   latitude longitude corner 38.09.580 75.57.800
Del-Jerseryland Inshore Reef

Del-Jerseyland Inshore reef

This reef is a 3 state joint venture- NJ, Del and Md 1.46 sq nm depth 121-131 feet 26nm from Indian River 33.7nm from Cape may 150° 30nm from Ocean City Md 41.7nm 179° from Townsend Inl

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