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The Dead Hand Journal



Back in 1972, the Ocean Engineering Department of Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton, FL) in cooperation with Goodyear, dumped about 2 million old tires into the ocean about a mile off Fort Lauderdale. Many of the tires were bound together with nylon or steel ropes, creating virtual tunnels of used rubber. The brain child of Prof. Ray McAllister, these tires were supposed to form the basis of a vast artificial reef, facilitating the growth of sea life, and significantly improving the underwater habitat off Southern Florida. To commemorate the event, Goodyear dropped a golden tire from its celebrated blimp while the world cheered.

Other coastal communities around the world followed suit, and soon, literally millions of used tires found their way to in-close shore locations everywhere. And then the world waited, and waited, and waited...

And the storms came and went; and the wind blew upon the ocean's surface; and the sea water corroded the steel ropes holding the tires together; and the nylon ropes became fowled and slippery so that the knots untied themselves; and the waves churned the shallow ocean sands with their load of relatively light tires; and the tires rolled here, and the tires rolled there; and then the tires began to show up on beaches following storms – beaches near and beaches far, often many miles away from the original dump – hundreds of tires, even thousands of tires...

In 2005 alone, the Ocean Conservancy volunteers removed 11,000 from beaches.

Rocks, you see, unlike tires, tend to stay put, so sea life can attach itself and grow, instead of discovering that it is taking an unwanted ride to Miami Beach on a wave-driven one-wheeler, or sliding back and forth atop a tire that is scouring away what little bottom life there was in the first place.

So now, around the world, volunteer divers and military divers in training (without cost to local communities) are removing the tires, one-by-one. Do the math: a diver probably can remove 4 tires an hour for maybe 5 hours a day. This means that to remove the approximately 10 million tires will take over 500,000 diver days.

But they had good intentions...

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