An artificial reef is a human-created underwater structure, typically built to promote marine life in areas with a generally featureless bottom, to control erosion, block ship passage, block the use of trawling nets, or improve surfing.
Many reefs are built using objects that were built for other purposes, such as by sinking oil rigs (through the Rigs-to-Reefs program), scuttling ships, or by deploying rubble or construction debris. Other artificial reefs are purpose-built (e.g. the reef balls) from PVC or concrete. Shipwrecks may become artificial reefs when preserved on the seafloor. Regardless of construction method, artificial reefs generally provide hard surfaces where algae and invertebrates such as barnacles, corals, and oysters attach; the accumulation of attached marine life in turn provides intricate structures and food for assemblages of fish.