Alabama Artificial Reef Program

Alabama has one of the largest artificial reef programs in the world thanks to the efforts of the Department of Conservation's Marine Resources Division and many committed partner organizations.

With a natural bottom that is predominately flat sand/mud type bottom, the vertical relief of a variety of artificial reefs has increased the species and overall number of fish in these areas and offered excellent diving opportunities as well. Many of the reefs, over time, appear as natural reefs with similar communities of encrusting organisms and bait fish.

Alabama's artificial reef building program started in 1953 when the Orange Beach Charter Fishing Association asked for the authority to place 250 car bodies off Baldwin County, Alabama. This proved to be very successful and in the years since, many different types of materials have been placed offshore of Alabama. These have included additional car bodies, culverts, bridge rubble, barges, boats and planes. In 1974, in an excellent example of State/Federal cooperation, several "ghost-fleeted" liberty ships were sunk in five locations off Mobile and Baldwin Counties in 80-93 feet of water.

In 1987, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit creating specific areas, nearly 800 square miles, offshore of Alabama for the creation of artificial reefs.

In 1993 the U. S. military, in addressing the need to de-militarize obsolete battle tanks, realized that immersion in sea water was an acceptable solution. The idea was presented to the Marine Resources Division and development of an operation plan known as Reef-Ex began. In 1994 one-hundred M-60 military tanks were deployed as artificial reefs in depths of 70 to 110 feet of water within the Hugh Swingle and Don Kelley North permit areas. The conservative estimate for the life span of the tanks is 50 years as artificial reefs.

In late 1997, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers authorized an expansion of Alabama's artificial reef construction areas to allow for greater freedom in reef placement and greater variety in depth. The reef program continues to be strong today, ensuring a prosperous fishing and diving environment for years to come.

Copyright 2014 Alabama Gulf Coast Reef & Restoration Foundation. All rights reserved.

Web Design by High Seas Design House