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May 2015    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 41, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Readers Weigh in About Turning Rigs into Reefs

from the May, 2015 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In our February issue, we wrote about turning oil rigs into diveable reefs, and why, even though leaving rigs in the water is the cheapest and often cleanest option, some environmentalists are clashing with coastal state governments about keeping them in the water. The opposition also carried over into our readership -- we got a few letters showing that some readers also stand on one side of the fence or the other.

Kevin McCarter (Aurora, IL) thinks the anti-reef environmentalists are hypocrites. "It seems to me this segment of the environmentalist crowd is among the most pig-headed, stubborn, emotionally driven people on the planet. They're not open to true, data-driven science or common sense. There's simply no balance in their world view. To them, it's all about politics and money . . . Your quote from the Greenpeace "executive" that fighting reefing is still the right thing to do because the oil companies don't like it is a rare bit of honesty that completely exposes their approach. Unfortunately, their top priority is not the environment. Don't get me wrong - - I don't automatically hate environmentalists. Aren't we all really environmentalists? I want to see the oceans and other parts of the planet protected against human activity, but I just want to see some common sense, balance and true scientific principles consistently applied."

Mary Wicksten (Bryan, TX) says our article is off base and advises us to read Richard Rezak's book Reefs and Banks of the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico. "By doing so, you'll find that many of the Gulf's 'natural reefs' are less than 10 feet high, silt covered and/or too deep for divers. For fish that prefer to get out of the silt, the platforms are a blessing. But comparisons with true coral reefs are useless. The platforms are shaded, which discourages coral growth. They also are made of metal parts that will not last hundreds of years. What this all boils down to is that one is comparing the biology on a metal vertical structure with that of a muddy sea floor or a natural reef. Is the biota of a platform 'good' or 'bad?' This is largely a matter of opinion, not science."

Here's another option to consider: turning old oil rigs into posh hotels. That's what happened with the Seaventures Dive Rig Resort on Malaysia's southeastern coast, between the islands of Mabul and Kapalai. The resort features 25 rooms, from four-bed dormitories to twin and double rooms, and on-site amenities include a movie room, karaoke lounge and bar ( the dive instructors moonlight as the house band, the Sea Gypsies), and conference facilities. No dive boat needed: An elevator takes divers all the way down to the house reef, or you can get off at the Rig Jump platform and jump right in. Book your rooms at ).

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