11ft shark sculpture haunts shipwreck off SC coast



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This 11ft great white shark sculpture was welded to the deck of a 250ft long barge and sunk like an artificial reef off the SC coast.


A monstrosity that looks exactly like an 11-foot great white shark now permanently haunts a wreck 13 miles off South Carolina’s Edisto Island.

The lifelike 2,800-pound sculpture was welded to the deck of a barge and both were sunk this week as part of an artificial reef program.

Is this a tourist attraction or a heck of a joke? Either way, SC’s Department of Natural Resources gets points for its creativity in boosting the state’s fishing and diving industries.

The gag was concocted by Robert Martore of the Marine Resources Division and the Bureau of Fisheries Management.

“We are building a lot of different artificial reef structures here at SCDNR, most of which are utilitarian. I asked our team to be creative. They took this directive to heart, ”Martore told McClatchy News.

Biologists from South Carolina will soon be visiting the barge to see how it landed on the seabed. SCDNR Photo

“One of our biologists, Brent Merritt, first designed a 2D shark made from welded steel rebar. In planning this, he decided that it could probably be done in 3D almost as easily, so he and the other reef program biologists, Ryan Yaden and Joe Alston, began construction.

The team covered Merritt’s frame with wire mesh, then added a layer of burlap, then covered it with mortar and concrete. Merritt finished it off with gills, nasal vents, and lots of pearly white teeth.

It took nearly a year to complete, in part because of disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Martore said.

The barge is part of an elaborate artificial reef program that also includes ships, sections of bridges, metro cars and military vehicles. Wrecks attract marine life – including real sharks – which in turn attract fishermen, divers and photographers.

Marine life is expected to colonize the barge within the next six to 12 months, experts say.

Martore says it’s not the first time they’ve attached something strange to one of the doomed ships and barges.

“It’s the biggest structure you could call art, but not necessarily the first,” he says.

“To practice their welding skills, they created a steel monkfish and a steel death star (from ‘Star Wars’) that we released about 2 years ago. Also, about 10 years ago a local artist created 2 little concrete cherubs as a memorial which we placed on a reef.

The Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina, which is a partner in the reef effort, said the “massive” 260-foot-long barge had a payload that included “12 shipping containers … as well as pieces of it. recently dismantled old water tower off Mount Pleasant.

“It is potentially the largest near shore structure ever deployed in the history of the program,” the association reported on Facebook.

This story was originally published September 17, 2021 6:54 pm.

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering topics such as schools, crime, immigration, LGBTQ issues, homelessness, and non-profit organizations. He graduated from the University of Memphis with a major in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.


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