A Survey of Artificial Reef System Methods in the Caribbean Sea

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

First Advisor

Robin L. Sherman

Second Advisor

Richard E. Spieler


Artificial reefs have become increasingly popular as a method to help prevent degradation of coral reef systems. Artificial reef design and technology has evolved greatly since the beginning of artificial reef use as a simple fishery tool. Modern artificial reefs employ various techniques and models in order to accomplish a variety of tasks including: protecting, rehabilitating, or preventing further damage to reef systems. However, in order to assess the success of these different techniques, artificial reef applications need to be examined from both a historical and modern perspective. In order to examine how artificial reef systems as a whole have been used in the past and how to improve techniques in use today, a thorough investigation into the history of artificial reef use as well as current applications and methods was conducted. Additionally, a survey of practices in artificial reef use in theCaribbean Seawas designed and implemented. The survey incorporated a broad range of agencies (i.e. governmental, educational, volunteer, etc.) and consisted of four main parts: type of AR deployed, site selection criteria, original objective or purpose, and availability of funding. The questionnaire was sent to 250 academic researchers, government coordinators, non-government organizations, and volunteer organizations. Of the surveys sent, 18 responses were received from project organizers and 21 responses were gathered from databases received from the Florida Artificial Reef Program. Results indicate most ARs are made of concrete (including Reef Balls™ and construction debris), are deployed in < 10m of water or at depths of 20-30m and are either of moderate size (1-2m in width and length) or of large sizes (< 3m).

Analysis of this data could provide knowledge of successful uses of artificial reefs, improve understanding of which methods are more effective for specific purposes, and yield direction for future research in terms of design, development, and deployment.

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