Prattes Reef, El Segundo, California: Artificial reef mirage

 What you may know is that about ten years ago Surfrider put in an artificial reef off the coast of El Segundo. It was part of a settlement with the Chevron Corporation after they destroyed a nearby surf break. You may also know that Pratte’s Reef doesn’t break. It’s not the wave people thought it would be. In fact, it’s not a wave at all. So, if you are ever offered something new to replace something you already have, say no. Artificial reefs, while interesting concepts, remain unproven and not a good trade for damaging a wave that already exists.

What you may not know is the downside of artificial reefs. There are a handful of artificial surfing reefs in the world. Virtually all of them were put in to slow erosion and not make waves. A recent peer-reviewed research paper noted that 10 of 12 existing artificial reefs are actually causing erosion. I’ve only seen one reef that has a wave that I’d call “decent” and I know it’s possible to get pics of anywhere that’s good at least once a year (even Pillbox). That fact, coupled with the additional point that artificial reefs are expensive to put in and expensive to take out if they don’t work, affirm my “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” contention. Pratte’s Reef could cost Surfrider Foundation hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove. Keep that in mind next time you hear some too-good-to-be-true story about artificial surf reefs.
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