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The 'Seal' prior to scuttling


Deploying the reefballs




The Leven SCUBA Club has established two artificial reefs close to Devonport. The motivation to do so came from the members desire to create an underwater structure to attract fish life to an otherwise barren area and for recreational diving. The North West Coast of Tasmania like many coastal regions, is heavily overfished and the club felt that by establishing an artificial reef, something could be put back to redress the situation.

In 1996 the Club purchased a 66 ft. long wooden vessel which sat derelict in the Mersey River Devonport. Originally a trawler called the Peebinga it was pressed into service as a Diving Tender during WW2 and renamed the SEAL in 1949. It was sold by the navy in 1968 and from 1970 to 1980 the vessel worked as a fishing trawler.

Members from the Leven Scuba Club prepared the vessel for sinking which included removal of hatch covers and environmentally cleaning the bilge's, then towed it to it's present location in 30 metres of water some 5 kilometres to sea off Don Heads, and scuttled the ship. This was completed in October 1996. Position: 41º 07.272' S 146º 19.716' E.

The wreck site was almost immediately successful in attracting reef fish such as Red Cod, Bearded Cod and Bulls-eyes. Unfortunately however, perhaps due to severe storm conditions the hull of the seal broke up after 6 months and while there is a considerable amount of debris at the site it's value as a diveable artificial reef has diminished, however local fisho's have gone to the trouble of placing a buoy on the site so the seal is undoubtedly performing its role as a fish habitat

The Leven club remained undaunted and vowed to try again with something a bit more substantial. This time, with the help of a Natural Heritage trrust grant, it was decided to purchase 'Reefball' moulds and create a reef out of prefabricated concrete shells. These types of artificial reefs have been successfully established around the world and are the brainchild of the Reefball Foundation of America.

Reefballs are concrete hemispheres, hollow inside and are honeycombed with side and top openings and have proven to provide a very stable and ideal habitat for fish. They are placed in numbers in close proximity to each other and a reef is born. Apart from the Leven reef, there are reefball projects in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Auatralia.

For further information regarding the Reefball Foundation - goto:

During 2000, 50 reefballs were constructed and in January 2001 they were deployed off Moorlands Beach near Port Sorell at a depth of 20 Metres. The position of the reef is at:

41º07.235' S - 146º30.857' E   give or take

In the time the reefballs have been in place, they have attracted quite a variety of marine life forms. Sponges, kelp, algae, ascidians, zoanthids and anenomes have attached to individual modules. In areas where clusters of reefballs have been dropped, there are shellfish, seastars and crabs. Pelagic fishlife has yet to establish itself in great numbers but boarfish, cod, cowfish silver trevally, silverbellies and barber perch have been sighted. The omnipresent Bass Stait winter weather often "cleans" the balls somewhat, but indications so far are extremely promising in realising the LSC's ambition of creating a sustainable marine habitat.

For further reading on the Leven SCUBA Club's reef construction project:

Download Artificial Reef Report.PDF - written by Greg Close



Magnificent Ascidians

Shaws Cowfish

Inside a reefball