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Coral reefs are among the most diverse ecosystems on the planet...and the most threatened. Artificial reefs may help stem the loss of these valuable and beautiful habitats, with shipwrecks, old subway cars, and other structures taking the place of living coral or rocky outcrops. The following Web sites introduce artificial reefs, reef ecology, and some ongoing efforts to establish reef communities in the U.S. and beyond. PBS's NATURE offers a fascinating look at the artificial reefs created by the thousands of shipwrecks and downed planes from World War II that riddle the South Pacific (1). This is the companion Web site to the documentary War Wrecks of the Coral Seas, and it includes some great multimedia features. The next site comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and contains an excellent photo gallery of coral ecosystems around the world (2). The collection includes six pages of artificial reef photos taken in the Pacific. The following site comes from the online companion to the BBC's acclaimed documentary series The Blue Planet. Based on the episode The Web of Life, this site offers a fun, multimedia challenge for learning about and testing one's knowledge of coral reefs (3). The site includes a section on artificial reefs (click on Take it Further). Next, an August 2001 segment from National Public Radio's All Things Considered explores efforts to create artificial reefs using decommissioned New York City subway cars -- a project of Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control in the Division of Fish and Wildlife (4). Likewise, the non-profit group Artificial Reefs of the Keys is working to bring a de-commissioned military ship to the Florida Keys (5). The New Jersey Scuba Diver Web site provides an excellent introduction to artificial reef ecology; focused on reefs in New Jersey, of course. The mini-tutorial comes courtesy of William Figly, Principal Fisheries Biologist for the New Jersey Artificial Reef Program (6). The Fall 2001 issue of California Wild, the magazine of the California Academy of Sciences, addresses the benefits and concerns of off shore oil rigs becoming artificial reefs (7). Finally, visitors will find dozens of news articles and Web links related to artificial reefs in this entry, a page from the New England Artificial Reef Society Web site (8).
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