YOU’VE HEARD OF
“ROLLING THUNDER”? HOW
ABOUT “ROLLING TIDE”?
ecreational boaters and anglers
now enjoy a 174-acre canopy
of healthy kelp where once
only barren seabed existed off
the California coast at San Clemente. The
new man-made ecosystem comes courtesy of an artificial reef created by placing approximately 120,000 tons of quarry
boulders on the seafloor.
The reef, about two miles long by a
fifth-of-a-mile wide and located roughly
halfway between Los Angeles and San
Diego, was built to mitigate possible damage to natural kelp caused by cooling-water discharge from Southern California
Edison’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating
Station. It’s believed cloudy water passing
through the power plant’s outflow pipe
hinders kelp growth so the $46 million
project is designed to offset any loss.
Kelp forests in Southern California’s
ocean waters provide important habitat for
baitfish, which in turn attract bass, halibut,
sharks, and other aquatic species. Sea lions
and seabirds such as gulls, pelicans, terns,
and cormorants also frequent kelp forests,
much to the delight of boating sightseers.
Construction on what’s being dubbed
the world’s largest artificial reef was completed in 2008. But the wavy copper-colored fronds only recently reached the
surface from 30 to 60 feet below.
“The builders did an excellent job
of boulder placement,” says Stephen
Schroeter, a University of California, Santa
Barbara research ecologist who supervises
monitoring the reef. “Moreover, the profile
is much improved over past artificial reefs.”
Schroeter explains that formerly artificial
reefs were built on sandy seafloors, but
because the heavy boulders tended to sink
in sand, they were piled high to compensate. But kelp never seemed to grow on
these tall boulder fields and even vigorous
replanting failed to help.
Scientists made a breakthrough when
they discovered an association between
boulder height and sea urchin populations.
Sea urchins eat kelp, and artificial reefs
high off the seafloor support huge colonies
of sea urchins. After building a lower-profile test reef, with only a foot or two of
sediment covering the bedrock, allowed
kelp to flourish, the reef was expanded to
its present configuration.
“I’ve fished the area 20 years and it
looks like the reef works perfectly,” says
Orange County businessman Matt Stabley.
“This year the kelp became super thick and
I began taking my son out there. We catch
halibut, calico bass, and white sea bass. It’s
interesting to be there. Lots of sea lions and
birds to see.” Wheeler North Reef, named
after the late biologist and diver, is a half-mile from shore, making it a popular diving
destination. — Jack Innis
That’s the name Cleveland Sea
Scouts gave to their entry in the Great
Lake Erie Boat Float last September
— and they rolled away with the
Most Artistic Style Award. Made from
600 recyclable Tide-brand detergent bottles and designed like a hamster wheel
to roll over the surface of Lake Erie,
its power came from — you guessed
it — a Sea Scout named Andrew running inside, just as fast as he could.
The revolving craft with the
recycling message crossed the finish
line at Edgewater State Park Beach
in the middle of the field of a dozen
floats. The event, sponsored by the
Cleveland Natural History Museum and
Cleveland Metroparks, highlighted the
responsible use of plastics and aimed
to help limit the material entering our
waterways. The high-density poly-
ethylene detergent bottles are readily
accepted by recycling companies, help-
ing manufacturer Procter & Gamble
Co. meet its sustainability goals.
Ship 41, of Bay Village, Ohio, is
no stranger to high honors. It won
the 2008 BoatU.S. Sea Scout National
Flagship Award as top performing Sea
Scout unit in the country, and a few
months later, landed a cool $30,000
cash prize in the Interlux Waterfront
Challenge for designing an innovative tool to clean up floating debris.
Sea Scouting is open to all boys and
girls, 14 to 21, and like all Sea Scout
units, Ship 41 uses boats, seamanship,
and nautical skills to develop character and leadership qualities in young
people. For more information about Sea
Scouting or to find a ship near you, visit
— Ryck Lydecker