Sunday, 16 August 2009

Last stop

Some time ago I wrote about a phenomenon I witnessed in Borneo - the citizens of a riverfront village had dumped a kids' bike in the water to serve as a little artificial reef. The plankton growing in and around the bikereef fed the seafood that the fishermen would later catch. Our guide explained that in the US he'd even heard of public transport vehicles being used as artificial reefs. And it turns out, he's not wrong. The Savannah Morning News recently reported on a massive exercise in upcycling that's seeing New York subway cars submerged off the coast of Georgia enjoying a useful new vocation.

"Artificial reefs are needed in Georgia's waters because the ocean bottom is mostly composed of loose sand and silt, which make it difficult for natural reefs to form, said Doug Haymans of the Department of Natural Resources. The reefs create habitats for sea life as well as fishing and scuba diving opportunities, Haymans said. Georgia pays $2,600 per car, but the state benefits economically by boosting recreational activities and luring fishing tournaments to the state because of the sea life that inhabits the artificial reefs… The reefs are artificial in name only. ‘The material is man-made, but all the organisms that adhere to it are natural,' he said. 'In 20 years, you won't even know they were subway cars.'"

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