Off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale lies a 36-acre pile of tires — 2 million of them to be exact. Could it be the final resting place of the infamous Firestone recall of 2000? Not exactly. The area is actually Osbourne Reef — a man-made reef that’s been around since the ’70s. At first glance, it looks more like a sea of tires than a marine habitat. But upon closer inspection … yup, still a sea of tires.
As William Nuckols, project coordinator and military liaison for Coastal America, explained on NPR last week, the man-made reef is a total failure. Marine life often thrives in other ocean debris, like sunken ships and old military aircrafts, but this hasn’t been the case with the tires. Instead, hurricanes sweep through the area, picking up the tires and crashing them back down, killing the same creatures they are supposed to support.
Now Florida officials are calling on Navy salvage divers to remove the tires, a process that will likely take several years. Hopefully, the next time we set out to mess with the oceans this gaffe will serve as a reminder that we’re just not as smart as Mother Nature.
Listen to the full broadcast here.