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Water Management Associations
Military Divers to Help Clear Undersea Tires
In the 1970’s an estimated 2 million tires were dropped into the water to create artificial reefs, undersea structures that would provide habitat for fish, crustaceans, sponges and corals. But the plan didn't work. Few marine creatures made their homes on the slippery rubber surfaces. Bundled tires broke apart, with the tires drifting onto the reefs and killing corals. The densest concentration, about 700,000 tires off Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, looks like an undersea dump, with an endless vista of tires on the ocean floor.

Army and Navy divers spent two summers retrieving the tires as a training operation, at no charge to the county. The 175-foot Army assault vessel Brandy Station, its .50-caliber machine guns safely stowed, served as the base, anchored about a mile and a half from the beach, as divers worked in the 70-foot water. Pat Quinn, a biologist with Broward County's Department of Environmental Protection and Growth Management, said no one expects all 2 million or so tires to be hauled up. The most urgent task, he said, is to retrieve the 300,000 tires on the western edge of the field, which threaten an adjacent coral reef.

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