Nearly 80 percent of the world’s natural reefs could be gone by 2050. But at least some of the creatures that rely on them will still have a place to live. Submerge something big in the right spot and the ocean will colonize it — which can be good for marine life, beaches, and you, if you happen to scuba dive, snorkel, or surf.
In the case of the coastal waterways near Vancouver, British Columbia, where debris from the logging industry smothered life on the seafloor, this meant sinking an entire Boeing 737 (above). Soon the plane will be joined by a 371-foot destroyer ship called the HMCS Annapolis. These decommissioned vehicles will build up habitats for plankton and other sea life, creating new ecosystems — not to mention a tourist destination where divers can swim through a plane and a warship.
Other troubled coastlines have gotten even more creative attention. Last November, an installation of 400 human-sized statues was completed in the waters of the Mexican marine park that encompasses Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and Punta Nizuc. And, as part of the largest artificial reef program in the US, the Alabama Department of Conservation has placed 100 M-60 tanks in the Gulf of Mexico (below). Seems that in addition to restoring underwater habitats, artificial reefs are a novel way to recycle retired vehicles.