CA oil rigs – remove them, let them be reefs?

As anyone who has driven through OC to the California central coast knows, there are lot of offshore oil rigs out there. The UT has a great article on the debate over what to do about the California oil rigs once their life span is up. Some want them dismantled, but as the article shows, they currently support a huge amount of life – the support structures essentially act as artificial reefs.

Among their proposals: Cutting down platforms 80 feet or more below the sea’s surface so that ships can safely pass over the remaining structure, or simply toppling whole platforms onto the ocean bed.

These options, say proponents, would preserve at least portions of the platforms as artificial reefs for fish and other marine life. Indeed, CARE estimates that the 27 Southern California platforms provide 4.1 million square feet of living space for marine invertebrates, such as mussels, barnacles, anemones, scallops, sponges, corals and crabs.

As for fish, several surveys in recent years have found that some of the platforms attract greater numbers and varieties of fish at times than do nearby natural reefs.

Assuming there were minimal heavy metal issues, I’d vote for keeping them around. Our oceans need all the help they can get, and these artificial reefs are great nurseries. They would probably be great spots for diving as well, in better shape than San Diego’s NOS tower.