The history of the Osborne Reef
In the 1960s and 70s, tire recycling was not widely available, so 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, which contributed to the significant air and water quality issues prevalent at that time. 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 create an artificial reef. At the time, it was believed that the tire reef would encourage new coral growth, attract more big game fish, improve biodiversity, and benefit the local economy. The idea garnered widespread public support and was ultimately endorsed by state and local governments as well as the US Army Corps of Engineers.
Ultimately, over two million used passenger car tires were bound together with steel clips and nylon straps to create the substrate needed to expand the Osborne Reef. Then, with the help of over 100 privately owned vessels, thousands of tire bundles were dropped into the Atlantic Ocean.