Artificial Reefs

Artificial Reefs

Busselton Jetty is one of Australia’s greatest artificial reefs. Over 158 years the jetty’s submerged timber and steel piles have become colonised with a beautiful array of marine invertebrates, creating a vibrant and diverse habitat for over 300 marine species. Simply put, man built a jetty, but mother nature created the reef.  Artificial structures can become wonderfully productive ecosystems, enhancing nearby natural environments. Busselton Jetty’s environment team are responsible for sustainably managing the existing jetty structure artificial reef and enhancing the vertical nature of this reef by providing additional seabed structures for marine life to colonise and use as habitat.

sculpture reef project

Installation of the Busselton Jetty Artificial Reef Trail is now complete, with 13 artistic sculptures now anchored to the seafloor with concrete plinths. The Artificial Reef Trail is located  at the northern end of the jetty structure, beneath Sections 7, 9 and 10 in an area approximately 200m x 20m. The sculptures will rest at a maximum depth of 8 metres, rising to a height of about 5 metres deep, and are fabricated from a variety of materials that are inert in the marine environment. Find out more about the amazing West Australian artists we worked with on the project and their amazing art pieces here.

This habitat enhancing project was progressed largely in response to customer survey results, where thousands of people suggested to us the building of reef structures, including ‘artistic’ elements at the end of the Jetty to enhance visitor experience and the abundance of marine life at the site. With interest in the installation of artificial reefs increasing both nationally and internationally, we investigated the potential and suitability of the jetty site for habitat enhancement using artificial structures, determining that the outcome of such a project is likely to benefit biodiversity and connect our visitors to discover the marine environment. BJI’s Artificial Reef Trail incorporates a mix of undersea objects including themed elements, artistic elements and educational signage.

BJI’s artificial reefs project will provide environmental benefits through providing additional hard seafloor habitat, which is naturally uncommon in Geographe Bay, where the seafloor habitat is predominantly seagrass meadows. We hope that the artificial reef further enhances the colonising ecological community that is already present under Busselton Jetty. 

BJI, as the approved permit holder for this project, has liaised with the City of Busselton and Department of Transport for object deployment to ensure approval for the final location, installation methods and processes are communicated to the public. BJI’s close working relationship with the local Departments of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and Fisheries will also ensure appropriate communication, notifications and input around the project.

These measures will ensure sound management of potential impacts, whilst maintaining the heritage and integrity of the jetty structure and surrounding marine environment. Busselton Jetty’s marine environment is one which has continuously experienced human disturbance due to shipping, construction, natural disasters and tourism and we are confident that we can sustainably manage the construction impacts of installing the reef elements. Ongoing monitoring of the reef site will begin after installation and we look forward to publishing the results.

You can read more about how we will manage and monitor the underwater sculptures in our Environmental Management and Monitoring Plan.

We are also reaching out to academics and students who may like to collaborate on research projects. Please email our Environment Manager with your interest [email protected]

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