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Research Technical Report

Sunken Shipping Containers Form Artificial Reefs

Laursen, L. (October 2011)

EARTH 56(10):20-21

Available at:


In February 2004, a 12-meter-long container full of rubber tires fell off a ship called the Med Taipei, which was carrying goods from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and landed in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in about 1,300 meters of water. A few months later, the red container appeared on the video monitor of a submersible on an unrelated mission for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, which alerted the sanctuary about the container.

In March of this year, sanctuary marine biologist Andrew DeVogelaere and his colleagues began exploring how the shipping container that fell into the sanctuary is affecting the environment about 20 kilometers offshore Monterey, Calif.