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Artificial Reefs: Pratte’s Reef in Los Angeles Officially Over

artificial reefJust weeks after placement began on Europe’s first first artificial surf reef, the roughly quarter-century long saga of Pratte’s Reef off of Los Angeles, Ca. is officially coming to a disappointing end.

It’s been a long, interesting journey for all involved with the project. One that has been filled with varying thoughts and points of view from those throughout the surfing community.

The concept of the reef was brought about when a large rock jetty was built nearly 25 years ago to protect a marine terminal and underwater pipelines at a Chevron facility in El Segundo, California. The jetty interfered with incoming swells an put a huge damper on much of the surf in the area. Surfrider Foundation stepped up and led a battle to remedy this issue and, after years of perseverance, a deal was eventually put in place to create Pratte’s Reef. The reef, constructed by the placing of geo-textile sandbags, was named after legendary surfing activist Tom Pratte, one of the leading forces in fighting the jetty and eventually getting everything in place for it’s placement.

The first section of the reef was placed in the water in the fall of 2000. When results weren’t what everyone had hoped for, Pratte’s Reef was increased the following spring, an upgrade that did little to obtain the desired results.

Now, roughly seven years later, divers who surveyed the reef have found it in shambles. The bags are dislodged, falling apart, buried in the muck and sand, and Pratte’s Reef has been rendered useless as a means for wave-creation. It is now being pulled out of the ocean piece by piece.

There’s plenty of blame going around right now as to how exactly we’ve come to this point. A recent L.A. Times article included some very informative thoughts and points of view given by those who have taken up the cause that is Pratte’s Reef. If there is any lesson at all to be learned from this, it’s that no matter how smart we think we may be, we will never, ever be able to replicate that which Mother Nature has done on her own.


Posted by Shaun on Friday, October 10th, 2008 in Surfing.

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