Toilets, Streetcars, and Light Poles—A Brief History of Artificial Reefs in Southern California

H2O Radio

Off the coast of Southern California on a stretch of ocean midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, I’m with my brother Rod on his sportfishing boat, Second C, for a short tour. I’m riveted to a computer screen onboard—state-of-the-art sonar that’s telling us what we’re missing underwater, as we head south just a half-mile offshore.

The display was quiet when we first left the harbor and traveled over sandy seafloor, but then we started to see multi-colored spikes that indicated kelp below the boat. It’s a good sign for fishing because all sorts of sea life gravitate to rocky areas—especially ones with kelp—to find shelter and food.

The sonar starts to fill in with more spikes, and then boomerang-shaped images appear, indicating individual fish—some of decent size—along with smaller schools that those big fish would like to dine on. The bounty of marine critters is good news for our destination—the Wheeler North Reef—a recently completed artificial reef off San Clemente, the biggest artificial reef in the country.

Read more >