Behind “Holidays With Jane”: Artificial Coral Reefs


One of the main elements in my Mansfield Park adaptation for the latest Holidays With Jane collection is an artificial coral reef that Fanny considers her second home.

As Fanny swam up to the surface for a breath, she wondered what this part of the ocean had looked like sixty years ago when her grandfather had first sunk the concrete blocks that formed the base of the flourishing reef she cared for today. It must have been a barren, sandy patch without much life around it. And now it was a vibrant ecosystem. Fanny was proud that Uncle Thomas had trusted her to watch it while he was away.

Coral reefs are some of the most sensitive ecosystems on the planet. Even small changes in ocean temperature or chemicals in the water or even an increase or decrease of salt in the water can have devastating effects, leaving the entire ecosystem out of balance.

Coral can look like rocks, but they are actually huge colonies of tiny animals. As the animals grow and die, they leave behind small deposits. In this way, the reefs grow very slowly. So any trauma they suffer can set a reef back many, many years. Knowing that building the bulk of the reef is a big obstacle to building reef health, people all over have started sinking artificial reefs to help the coral along.

Boulder coral
Boulder coral

In my story, Fanny’s grandfather has sunk some concrete blocks. But artificial reefs can develop virtually anywhere! In my hometown area, we have reefs built out of concrete blocks, sections of old bridges, old barges, and even old railroad cars!

Have you ever visited a coral reef? Share your story in the comments! And make sure to get your copy of Holidays With Jane: Spring Fever here.


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