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Ohio Sea Grant College Program
and Stone Laboratory

Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory

Artificial Reefs

Since their construction beginning in 1984, Lake Erie's artificial reefs have been structures one could only view from under water. Until now. New research by Ohio Sea Grant researchers Scudder Mackey, Jonathan Fuller, Dale Liebenthal, and Dave Kelch has for the first time produced electronic images of eight artificial reefs in the Central Basin of Lake Erie.

Artificial Reef General Mid Points of Area or Main Feature

ReefLatitudeLongitudeEastingNorthing
Stadium East41° 35' 55.785475" N 81° 33' 48.682088" W 453038.31 4605389.59
Stadium West #2 41° 29' 58.087320" N 81° 45' 24.552960" W 436832.94 4594481.68
Stadium West #1 41° 30' 08.748858" N 81° 45' 35.514123" W 436581.70 4594812.70
Big Test Reef 41° 30' 15.146696" N 81° 47' 03.172584" W 434551.26 4595028.15
Little Test Reef 41° 30' 16.365287" N 81° 47' 32.032438" W 433882.55 4595071.83
Cuyohoga County... 41° 30' 10.688341" N 81° 47' 15.184795" W 434271.53 4594893.19
Lorain Mountain Reef 41° 28' 08.912933" N 82° 12' 44.971266" W 398753.09 4591547.94
Lorain Polish... 41° 28' 05.049949" N 82° 12' 43.223573" W 398791.96 4591428.24

Designed and placed in generally structureless bottom areas, artificial reefs have created new and diverse aquatic communities for the Lake. From the 3000 tons of broken sandstone material used for the Lakewood reefs (Big Test Reef and Little Test Reef) in 1984 to the 25,000 tons of Cleveland Stadium debris for the Stadium reefs in 1997, anglers and divers have seen fish concentrations around the reefs 20 to 60 times greater than in non-reef areas. However, until this new research, no guide had been made showing the details of the reefs' location and configurations.

Applying sidescan sonar, the researchers transmitted sound underwater to produce echoes or reflections from objects and materials on the bottom of the lake. The varying intensity, based on the density of the material, produced light and dark areas on the record called backscatter. Using the return from transmitted sound pulses to produce a continuous backscatter record of the lake bottom, the researchers digitized the field using a Triton Elics Data Acquisition system, geo-referenced each record, and assembled the records side-by-side into a mosaic. The side scan mosaics were then imported into Arcview Geographic Information System software, allocating latitude and longitude coordinates.