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A New Direction for the Reef Program

"Reef Balls" are concrete fish habitats designed by a firm in Sarasota, Florida and are used worldwide to build ocean artificial reefs. They are igloo-shaped and hollow and have over a dozen access holes for fish. Measuring 4 feet in diameter and 3 feet high, they weigh 1,400 pounds each.

Through a cooperative project between Southern State Correctional Facility, located in Delmont (Cape May County), and the Division's Reef Program, inmate laborers use fiberglass molds to fabricate Reef Ball habitats. The structures will be stockpiled until early summer, when over 600 of them will be barged offshore for placement on New Jersey reef sites.

These designed habitats are expected to maximize use by fish, especially those species, like tautog and sea bass, that hide under ledges or in caverns. The internal cavity will also provide juvenile fish with refuge from larger, ocean predators. To further enhance their value as sanctuary habitat, the Reef Balls will be widely dispersed on the sea floor.

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