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October 14, 2003

Contact: Peter Boger
(609) 984-1795
Elaine Makatura
(609) 292-2994


Final Round of 50 Cars Splashed at Shark River Reef Site

(03/148) TRENTON --- The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) dropped its fifth and final round of 50 subway cars today at the Shark River Reef Site off Monmouth County for use in the state's artificial reef program. The decommissioned subway cars are part of 250 acquired from the New York Transit Authority (NYTA).

"Our artificial reef program provides tremendous benefits to fishermen, divers, and our shore economy," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "As a pilot project, research at reef sites that include these subway cars will enhance our understanding of marine ecosystems."

Past studies of artificial reefs suggest that subway cars may be colonized by up to 200 species of fish and invertebrates. Reefs have 800 to 1,000 times more biomass than open ocean. Artificial reefs can also form important nurseries for juvenile fish.

DEP deployed the first 50 subway cars at Cape May Reef on July 3, followed by 50 cars at Deep Water Reef off Ocean City on July 16, 50 cars at the Atlantic City Reef on July 25, and 50 cars at the Garden State North Reef on September 3.

The 0.72-square mile Shark River Reef Site is approximately 15.6 miles offshore from Manasquan in Monmouth County and currently is comprised of over 761,000 cubic yards of rocks, vessels, and tire units.

Since 2001, NYTA's artificial reef program has deployed over 1,000 decommissioned "Redbird" subway cars at reefs in Delaware, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia. NYTA bears all costs associated with cleaning the cars and transporting them to the reefs. The 250 cars acquired by New Jersey are the final batch of cars expected to be available for some time.

Each Redbird car is approximately 51 feet in length and nine feet in width and height. Prior to deployment, NYTA strips each car of all tanks, plastic, degradable materials, and grease to avoid contamination of the marine ecosystem.

DEP has formed an independent committee to oversee a multi-year monitoring program at the subway car sites that will study water quality, fisheries and biota, and the durability of the reefs. The committee will convene early this fall for an initial review of the subway car deployment.

Prior to the committee's final report, the state is implementing a moratorium on placement of any additional artificial reef material, with the exception of rock, concrete, and ships and barges.



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