Artificial Reef to Rise Off of San Clemente to Help Re-Grow Kelp Forests

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Image from debaird via flickr

One of the world's largest and most ambitious artificial reef projects, a 150-acre reef to be built from 125,000 tons of volcanic rock, is finally beginning to take shape off of San Clemente, California, after years of delay, reports LAT's Susannah Rosenblatt. The $40 million project, which is being funded by Southern California Edison, is meant to help counteract the environmental damage caused by the nearby San Onofre nuclear plant.

Examining the reef's design
The reef will anchor a large kelp forest that planners hope will attract a wide variety of marine organisms to help repopulate the area. Each patch of rock will be carefully placed along the sea floor, the result of years of painstaking research and planning.

The entire structure will eventually stretch 2.5 miles from San Clemente Pier to San Mateo Point. The precise arrangement of the rocks will facilitate the settling of kelp and help flush out competing or invasive species.

Completion and long-term monitoring
The project, the recipient of much thought and scrutiny, has been roundly praised by both environmentalists and government officials -- if anything, environmentalists have argued that more should be done to compensate for the impact of the nuclear plant -- is expected to be completed by October. The kelp's growth will be monitored over the next few years, and its ambient marine life will be compared to that of two nearby natural reefs.