The history of the Osborne Reef
In the 1960s and 70s, tire recycling wasn’t widely available and America’s waste tires were crowding landfills, piling up in illegal dump sites, and polluting the environment. The scrap tire stockpiles that emerged were prone to catastrophic fires that contributed to significant air and water quality issues. They also attracted vermin and mosquitos that could spread disease to nearby communities.
In the early 1970s, a nonprofit group founded by fishermen suggested using the tires to expand an artificial reef off the coast of Florida. It was believed that the tire reef would encourage new coral growth, attract more big game fish, improve local biodiversity, and benefit the local economy. The idea garnered widespread public support and was eventually endorsed by state and local governments as well as the US Army Corps of Engineers.
To create the substrate of the artificial reef, used passenger car tires were bound together with steel clips and nylon straps. Then, with the help of over 100 privately owned vessels, thousands of tire bundles were dropped into the Atlantic Ocean