Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 7909
Title: New career for old barges
Author: Benjamin G. Patten, Rae R. Mitsuoka
Publication Year: 1972
Journal: Unknown
Issue: September
Pages: 15

Two old wooden barges, retired from carrying sand and gravel on Puget Sound, have started second lives at the bottom.  They have become fish sanctuaries about 300 feet offshore—one, off Seahurst County and Saltwater State Parks south of Seattle, and the other off Kopachuk State Park west of Tacoma. 

Washington State park planners have been wanting to establish underwater habitats, and hope to develop a series of facilities—manmade reefs in variety, from old tires to sunken observation towers—both for divers and for nondiving viewers.  The sinking of these barges, which Foss Tug and Barge Company donated to the park department, reward the first efforts. 

Fish don't congregate in sandy areas unless there's some submerged object to orient to, and Puget Sound has lots of sandy slopes.  Chuck Miller, state park planner at Olympia, tells of diving off Saltwater Park to look for a site.  An 8 foot log, 3½ feet thick had attracted fish, which hovered around the top and ends, and sheltered an octopus underneath. 

The two barges were sunk by the Foss Company at their sites in 40  feet of water in October, 1971.  The sea bottoms where they now rest are characteristic of the state's littoral zone—sand and cobble.