Artificial reefs are not a new idea. Around the world various artificial structures are used to create reefs, but not all materials and designs are equal. Although well intended, some of these structures can actually harm the environment by leaking toxic chemicals or introducing biologically active compounds such as copper, iron, zinc, chromium, or fertilizers. This often happens when artificial reefs are built from materials of opportunity such as old cars, boats, or other large structures.
Among the artificial reef designs that are environmentally friendly, some are more effective than others. The composition of certain materials can promote the growth of some species over others, creating a thriving but unbalanced ecosystem. Other materials are short-lived or highly vulnerable to damage from the heavy currents that often come hand in hand with strong storms. Furthermore, some artificial reefs are better designed to promote and sustain marine plants and animals than others.
After evaluating a wide range of options, Clean Foundation selected reef balls as the strongest artificial reef design for the Nova Scotian marine environment. Reef balls are designed specifically for supporting life in the ocean and are currently one of the most widely used designs for an artificial reef system in the world. They do not leach toxins into the water and do not contain biologically active compounds. The stability and longevity of the structures also makes them ideal for marine habitat restoration work.
Of most importance, however, is the physical design of the reef balls, which creates habitat and space for sea life while also promoting circulation and maximizing exposure to sunlight. In combination, these features make reef balls the ideal structure for artificial reefs in Nova Scotia.