Fish off the Delaware beaches got some new holiday habitat this week. The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) sunk more than 2,000 tons of concrete onto an artificial reef 5.5 miles out from the Indian River Inlet, between Dewey and Bethany beaches.
The concrete, typically donated culvert pipe and other recycled products, will provide even more homes for tautog and summer flounder, both popular fish for anglers. DNREC’s artificial reef system off the Indian River Inlet already consists of nearly a thousand retired New York City subway cars and the 180-foot, World War II-era Army/Navy freighter Reedville.
Reedville was intentionally sunk back in August. It took about two-and-a-half hours for her to go under, bow first, in 88 feet of water. She came to rest on the bottom of the ocean at Redbird Reef, about 16 miles off the inlet. The 1.3-square-mile reef offers opportunities for angling and SCUBA diving alike.
In all, Delaware has 14 reef sites ranging from just off the coast all the way to 55 miles out, along the edge of the continental shelf. In all, the Delaware Artificial Reef Program has recycled two million tons of rock, 100,000 tons of concrete, 86 tanks and armored carriers, 1,329 retired subway cars and 27 retired vessels ranging from 30 to 653 feet long.
DNREC says artificial reefs are especially important in the mid-Atlantic because natural rock is limited here, unlike in New England or south Florida.
-Meg Walburn Viviano