Shipwreck Reef

When a ship meets its fate at the bottom of the ocean, sometimes it becomes benthic habitat! The Civil War ship Monitor, found within Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, and several World War I and World War II ships located on the seafloor near the sanctuary are the gravesites of the brave people who once fought and died there, and are also a living part of the marine environment. Shipwrecks cannot grow over time like a natural hard-bottom coral reef, but corals, anemones, sponges, tunicates, and other marine invertebrates colonize the surface of shipwrecks, therefore providing food, shelter, and breeding grounds for fish such as snapper, grouper, and sand tiger sharks.

Shipwreck habitat
Photo: NOAA