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Free Content Artificial Reefs in Chesapeake Bay and Nearby Coastal Waters

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A 3-year artificial reef study, supported principally by mitigation funds, was undertaken in 1983 in Chesapeake Bay and coastal waters of Virginia. At three chosen sites, up to five types of designed units (tire bundles, high surface area tires—HSTs, tires embedded in concrete—TICs, concrete igloos and concrete pipe pyramids) were deployed and evaluated for effectiveness and structural integrity via quantitative fishing and SCUBA observation. The principal fish caught were black sea bass (Centropristis striata), tautog (Tautoga onitis), gray triggerfish (Balistes capriscus), and oyster toadfish (Opsanus tau). Both tautog and sea bass spawned on the reefs, which also served as juvenile habitat for these species. Catch per unit effort (CPUE in fish/rod-h) were combined for 1984 and 1985. There was no significant difference in monthly catch rates among reef structures at Cape Charles or at Wachapreague. At both sites, reef CPUEs were significantly higher than control (non reef) station CPUEs. However, at Gwynn's Island catch rates for the combined reef were not significantly different than the control CPUEs. Fishing success over tire bundles at Wachapreague was high, but these units moved off site within months. As a result, the state of Virginia began using TICs in its tire-reef program. CPUEs of igloos were low the first year (3.10—Wachapreague and 2.30—Cape Charles), but catch rates were higher in subsequent years. The igloos showed no sign of deterioration, movement or sinking into the sediment, and have a long life expectancy. Despite their high initial cost ($1,200 plus deployment), these units are recommended for future reefs in Chesapeake Bay.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 March 1989

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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