Local/State

Giant horseshoe crab makes a splash at Jersey Shore

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A giant horseshoe crab has invaded the Jersey Shore and is making quite a bit of waves. It is actually a huge sculpture that one local artist is hoping will attract a lot of fish.

Some people dream big, and Chris Wojcik of Point Pleasant dreams really big.

With help from some friends the artist and marine biologist has created a 47 foot long, 25,000 pound concrete sculpture of a horseshoe crab, built to become an artificial reef at the bottom of the ocean.

"It has lots of area underneath for fish to hide and it has a lot of surface area over the top for mussels and barnacles," explains Wojcik.

The concrete colossus is an exact replica of a real horseshoe crab like the ones that have called the Delaware Bay home for 350 million years or so, since dinosaurs roamed the earth.

"That is anatomically perfect, near as I can tell," says reef maker Joe Weatherby. "The legs aren't quite as many underneath, but he did a really magical job."

It started by shaping the shell with rebar and covering it with mesh.

"So when we troweled the cement up, it didn't fall all the way through, and then we did layer upon layer upon layer," said Wojcik.

"It was about 12 hour days when we first started in October. It took us about six weeks," said assistant Matt Lees.

In the next couple weeks, the sculpture will be lowered by crane into the ocean about three miles off the coast of Mantoloking and will immediately become what's believed to be the largest underwater sculpture in the world.

"We've been giving him some help with logistics and how to get it to the bottom so the crab lands right side up," said reef maker Jeff Dey.

"It's nutty and awesome; science, conservation, art, fun!" That's how teacher Beth Kobesky describes the artificial reef.

The project is costing about $96,000; all of it paid for with donations.

Wojcik says he doesn't mind that his sculpture will only been seen by fish.

"I'm a marine biologist and also a fisherman and a diver, so it's perfectly fine with me," said Wojcik.

And so until conditions to sink it are just right, Wojcik's giant horseshoe crab waits on a barge for its journey to the bottom of the sea.

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jersey shore, new jersey, local/state, nora muchanic
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