- 1 Changing nature while being in tune with it
Changing nature while being in tune with it
Dreams may come true!
Imagine that surfers from anywhere won’t have to go far away from their areas in the search of ideal waves and surfing spots.
And every coast town is a perfect surfing spot now as those on the Great Ocean Road in Australia or in California. It’s no longer a dream!
Geoscientists from all over the world have long been studying the opportunities of creating artificial reef spots. They are investigating the possibility of changing sea bottom topography to introduce artificial spots with reefs there.
There are such artificial spots with reefs in the ocean near Australia, England, and the USA but due to one or another reason, some of these man-made reefs were scuttled.
And still, the scale of artificial spots with reef artificial creation is rather small today.
What is in the root of the dream
To see how this artificial construction works, one should get the idea that it doesn’t matter how waves are formed but it’s important how they break.
In lay terms, it happens due to the different speeds of upper and lower waves.
The lower wave is meeting an obstacle represented by a reef (artificial in this case). The reef makes the wave lose its potency and it slows down failing to keep pace with the upper one.
As to the upper wave, it is still rolling fast and has to break upon the water surface in a certain shape that is now an interest for the surfer at a certain spot. And the wind will do the rest!
It sounds great but things are still where they started. Why? – you can ask.
In fact, it’s a very controversial problem with developing new spots as no one knows how creating artificial reefs will affect nature.
But still, the main issue with such spots is that no one can predict how the wave of a new artificial nature will behave.
And on the contrary, waves caused by coral reefs at the surfing spot coast shire in Australia, for example, are of the same rolling character as many decades ago.
We were the first ones
Surfers have much knowledge of the wave formation process on the reefs and they were the first to put forward the idea of making artificial reefs and modifying their surfing spots.
There has been much feverish discussion among them concerning how to make their preferred surf spot better by some artificial constructions.
It’s not a surprise that many of them choose spots with sunk shipwrecks. It allows passing from traditional to unusual and more extremal.
The problem lies in the choice of materials for these artificial spots.
The suggestions were at times rather crazy like someone’s scrappage car!
One thing is clear – it should be something huge to act as an artificial obstacle for the water to slow it down at a certain spot whose effect could be similar to that of a reef.
As surfers are known as ardent naturalists, they haven’t yet resigned to damage the ocean by putting garbage into its waters.
But some scientists alongside surfers are still taking steps forward to their perfect spot with man-made reefs. Kimo Walker is among them (he was a geoscientist and good soul).
Unfortunately, he died in 1998 but left behind a vast legacy for today’s spot innovations in the sphere of artificial reef formation. His investigations of the oceanic bottom have contributed much to today’s artificial reef spots creation projects.
One of his followers is Andrew Pitt, an artificial reef architect. He is maintaining some important projects to spread artificial reef making around the world with the use of ecologically safe materials.
He has formed his own approach to artificial reef formation and is ready to pass on some ideas about such reefs with scientists as well as with amateurs.
One who has inspired us
Once inspired by a younger generation of surfers, Andrew considers artificial reef spots formation the same way as the development of other sports facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts in each neighborhood, football pitches in every town, and sports grounds for even the smallest villages to encourage people to do sports.
For those who once have chosen surfing it isn’t just a kind of sport, it’s rather a mode of life!
The surfing networks have been gaining more and more power for the latest two decades and their activity is directed to protect the rights of surfers from all over the world and put forward the popularity of their outdoor activity among younger generations.
Surf spots with reefs are overcrowded today. Maybe it’s the reason why locals are so aggressive to newcomers.
That is why new artificial spots creation will solve lots of problems.
Moreover, there is one more reason for creating new artificial reefs. Andrew Pitt names it a climatic one.
There’s hardly a person to be unaware of global warming. Surfers are not less anxious about it than other people.
Water levels and tides are changing. The coastline is being destroyed by storms, and surfriders are forced to move in the search of point breaks and spots with perfect waves.
Besides, artificial reefs made of the right materials could be a perfect home for corals and ocean fauna.
Money is nothing against the surfer’s ambitions but still, it’s the matter of cause
The reasons for creating artificial reef spots are clear but what is the value of the matter?
Long term investigations have made it obvious that an artificial reef should be not less than a football pitch in terms of area.
Such an artificial reef could not only provide high-quality waves, stable enough regardless of weather and wind but also prolong the period of board riding days on this spot.
Apart from the area size, the height of submerged artificial structures is significant too. Thus, overhead reefs act as an artificial booster for waves.
These reefs make it possible to put off the break. The form of the line-up can produce not only green waves but also a desirable tube, so unapproachable on beach breaks and even on the most popular spots.
The average cost of such a huge artificial reef ranges from a dozen to hundreds of millions of US dollars depending on the materials used and the scale of works required on one spot.
Thus, boulder and sandbags artificial reefs are cheaper than those made of metal and ceramic constructions specially designed not only to strengthen the wave but also to create a good coral ground on the spot.
Renovation projects, for example, on smoothing artificial and natural reefs, are financially easier than spot construction from scratch.
Some stumbling blocks
But still, it’s difficult to reach the government’s assent to interfere with the natural oceanic topography.
So the choice of spots to be changed is very restricted.
The records show they are beach breaks with waves of a quiet character but with a great perspective to attract tourists and surfers to maintain the area’s economy.
But for all that, such an attraction should be inspired by the climatic and tidal factors on the spot too.
This refers to a full artificial reconstruction of the oceanic floor, so it requires huge funds, and, as a result, such projects are going on slowly.
Hope springs eternal
The projects that are already at work or have already succeeded are about the restoration of natural coral reefs.
They demand smaller budgets and are usually supported by the government and local ecological communities.
Another type of renovation works on these spots is directed to the artificial conservation of the coastline on beach breaks that is caused by the constant washing out of the sand.
You can’t but agree that the process of taking the sand back is much easier in technical and financial terms than the upper described projects.
The latter two types of renovation have already been carried out by the shores of Australia, and many former resorts have attracted surfers from all over the world at once.
What do we have
Lots of steps are undertaken and going in the direction of taking the idea of the introduction of the artificial reefs at the former surf spots and places that deserve becoming surfable.
It is likely to believe that such discussions will lead to the changing mind upon the controversial issue of creating artificial reef surfing spots.
You can’t but agree that artificial reef creation comes in the tune with saving ecology in certain spots.
Artificial reefs will no longer be something unnatural, on the contrary, it’s pleasant to watch how new reef structures are restoring life by covering with corals and attracting like a magnet new users to these artificial spots.
Such spots could be great grounds for new scientific research, such as making new discoveries in the field of the choice of new ecological materials for reef formation, alongside snorkeling and diving on the new spots.
As for surfing, we have always been ready to wait for our endless summer with steady green waves and we are always ready to make our own contribution to the common cause of creating new artificial surfing spots.