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FYI: February 2004

FYI — February 2004
By Brad Dunn
   
 
 More of this Feature
• Part 1: What a Re-Reef, Things We Like, and more
• Part 2: A Word With.., and more

 Related Resources
• News/FYI Index

What A Re-Reef
It took two years of hard work and a whole lot of controversy, but the last of a particular type of New York City subway car was sunk off Delaware in November, completing an artificial reef that oceanographers have already called “a resounding success.”

The final of a fleet of retired “Redbird” subway cars was submerged 16 miles off Wilmington, marking the completion of the first of what will become dozens of artificial marine habitats along the East Coast. The first car hit the seafloor in August 2001; today it is covered with mollusks, barnacles, and other sea life in need of a home.

Celebrating even more than the mollusks, charter-boat captains and recreational fishermen view the subway reef as a resurrection of their livelihood.

“The success has been astounding,” says Capt. Jerry Blakeslee, president of the Delaware Captains Association, a trade group for charter fishing businesses. “Almost too good,” he adds, explaining that the waters are so teeming with fish now that many day trips end early because everyone onboard catches their limit.

When the idea was pitched to sink 619 steel subway cars in Delaware, many environmentalists predicted an ecological disaster. The sorest subject: the asbestos tiles that lined the old No. 7 trains. “There’s conflicting opinion on whether the cars are safe or desirable,” says Matt Burns, a spokesman for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which passed up the trains for other reef-building structures. “Our first choice was to use more benign materials.”

Environmental opinions ran the other way in Delaware, however. EPA oceanographer William Muir studied the asbestos issue and concluded that the material, which poses a carcinogenic threat in the air, does not pose the same risk underwater.

“From our standpoint, it is a resounding success,” Muir says, adding that the cars, which are expected to last up to 25 years before decomposing on the ocean floor, attract thousands of species of marine life.

That’s reason enough for state representative V. George Carey, who voted to approve the artificial reef project.

“This is a win-win situation,” Carey says. “New York is willing to give us these cars they’ve cleaned up, and we get a reef where fishermen can go catch fish.”

367,647
Average price in dollars of each of the 68 islets the United States purchased from Denmark in 1917, which eventually became known as the U.S. Virgin Islands. —U.S. Department of the Interior

Things We Like
Though not exactly highway-approved, the Sealegs Explorer is a great way to get from your home’s garage to your boat’s lazarette—without the hassle of changing vehicles. Designed by New Zealander Maurice Bryham, the James Bond-inspired tender turns three-wheeler at the touch of a button. Just power up to the shore and drop the landing gear. Easy to park, the Explorer could even revolutionize your commute to work.

Sealegs International Phone: (64) 9-377-3992. www.sealegs.com.

February Calendar
4-8. The International Power Boat Show in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (212) 984-7000. www.discoverboating.com/boatshows/atlanticcity
4-8. The Mid-Atlantic Boat Show in Charlotte, North Carolina. (336) 855-0208. www.ncboatshows.com
12-17. The Miami International Boat Show. (954) 441-3220. www.discoverboating.com/miami
18-22. The Washington Boat Show in Washington, D.C. (703) 823-7960. www.washingtonboatshow.com
19-22. The Philadelphia Boat Show. (804) 425-6556. www.royalshows.com/boat/pa

Next page > A Word With..., and more > Page 1, 2

This article originally appeared in the January 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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