Most artificial reefs

EJ Shu


are inadvertent: time after tide

myriad sessile bodies gather

and root to moorings, breakwaters, the

mammoth feet of turbines;

even waste


dumped in an estuary provides a

kind of scour protection, attachment

surfaces for fouling species, for

faunal communities;

others are


built by practitioners with degrees

of creative freedom, they are sewn

bags of mesh, of shells, the shells (cockle,

mussel and oyster) dried

on land and


purified of the bivalve trace, and/

or supplied stone, and left out on the

intertidal sandflats and fixed with

specialist pegs, exposed

to winds and


sometimes lost to currents; specious homes,

shallow roosts, room and berg surveilled; rec-

ordered: barnacle, amphipoda,

predatory worm, the



footprints of gulls; colonisation

driven by the clefts in the matrix,

interstitial spaces chosen or

trapping those riding on

mobile sands.




Note: This poem uses fragments from the following scientific article:

Callaway, R. 2018. ‘Interstitial space and trapped sediment drive benthic communities in artificial shell and rock reefs’. Frontiers in Marine Science. 5. DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2018.00288



EJ Shu is an Australian-Canadian writer whose recent poetry appears or is forthcoming in Cordite, Poets Reading the News, Plum Tree Tavern and Psaltery & Lyre. She makes her home on the north west coast of Tasmania.

%d bloggers like this: