New Artificial Reef Created in Hollywood -- by Sinking a Cement Sailboat

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Look, Hollywood Beach was already cool. Segways, the Broadwalk, bar after bar after bar. But now? There's a cement vessel named Usikusiku (Swahili for "twilight," of course) that's been sunk. It's a part of a number of artificial reefs that Broward has created over the past 20-plus years, and divers can check them out.

There's number of ship and boat wrecks offshore of Hollywood that span over a quarter mile, according to broward.org. But are they actually helping the environment? Back in 1972, 2 million tires were dumped near Osborne Reef as part of an artificial reef that would attract (hopefully) marine life.

It did not.

From USA Today in 2007:

Little sea life has formed on the tires. Some of the tires that were bundled together with nylon and steel have broken loose and are scouring the ocean floor across a swath the size of 31 football fields. Tires are washing up on beaches. Thousands have wedged up against a nearby natural reef, blocking coral growth and devastating marine life.

Still, the new artificial reef announced by the Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division has local environmentalists pointing out how the sunken vessel is different from the tire fiasco.

"Yeah, these artificial reefs with sunk vessels aren't much of a problem," Reef Rescue director Ed Tichenor tells New Times. "It's not like tires at all. The tires just didn't have the right density to stay in one place, and nothing grows on them, so all the bundles broke up and moved all over the place. But the artificial reefs they put down there tend to stay in one spot. Corals grow on them, sponges grow on them; they're to some degree, at least, a habitat. It shouldn't be viewed as a replacement for a coral reef, though; it's really just a tourist attraction."

That it is.

Usikusiku, the sailing vessel, may intrigue divers into going to give it a look. The boat was owned by a paraplegic couple and was built in South Africa. The couple, oddly, had never sailed before but they took lessons eventually and headed off for the Caribbean before having children. Years later, they ended up in Fort Lauderdale and donated it to the Broward County artificial reef program. Since 1982, more than 112 artificial reefs have been created because of the program.

"A lot of the dive boats down there in Broward County are very involved in acquiring these wrecks and putting them down so they have somewhere to take divers," Tichenor said. "Also there's an argument that it takes some pressure off the reef if you bring divers to wrecks as opposed to the same reef all the time, so I guess there's a benefit to it."

If you'd like to see Usikusiku for yourself, it's located at 26o 00.4407'N, 80o 05.5850'W.

Follow Ryan Cortes on Twitter.

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