New Jersey Scuba Diving
Natural Rock Formations
All along the coast there are natural rock formations in the otherwise sandy or muddy bottom of our underwater environment. The Shrewsbury Rocks are the largest and most well-known of these; the Klondike Rocks further south are similar but lower. Many others are not depicted here, but are listed as "lumps" or 'ridges" on fishing charts. A very large underwater rock formation occurs off Watch Hill Long Island. Most of these are outcroppings of the local Greensand ( shown at right, ) although further south and offshore they are more likely to be clay.
The Artificial Reef Program has greatly augmented the natural hard bottom of the region with millions of tons of dumped rock fro construction and dredging projects. The largest concentrations are in the Sandy Hook Reef and the Shark River Reef.
Shrewsbury / Elberon Rocks
Images of the Elberon Rocks, courtesy of Donna L. Blaszcak
The Shrewsbury Rocks are a wide area of rocky bottom that stretches from fourteen feet of water out to the fifty-foot mark off of Monmouth Beach. Some of the formations are twenty feet tall or more, and can be very pretty under good conditions, which are unfortunately seldom this far north. The stone itself is a type of sandstone known as Greensand.
Further south are the Elberon Rocks ( or Grounds. ) This is a wide expanse of somewhat lower rocks and rough bottom. Much lower outcroppings occur even further south, such as the Klondike Rocks.
from AWOIS: 1538
FE331SS/89 -- OPR-C147-HE-89; CONTACT #12 FROM ABOVE SURVEY; DIVERS FOUND A LARGE ROCK THAT WAS COVERED WITH CORAL AND OTHER SEA LIFE, AND HUNDREDS OF LEAD FISHING WEIGHTS; SURROUNDING BOTTOM WAS SAND; ROCK HAS A VERY STEEP NORTH FACE AND, AT THAT POINT, RISES ABOUT 8 FT OFF THE BOTTOM; PNEUMATIC DEPTH GAUGE LEAST DEPTH OF 46 FT. (UPDATED MSD 7/91)
Looks almost like a Caribbean reef. Almost ...
Colorful sponges, coral, hydroids, and anemones
A section of sandstone sawn-through by the boat's anchor chain
Ledges and crevices
A rocky pinnacle
George Washington is reported to have fished the Shrewsbury Rocks, and on any nice day you can easily make out the location of the rocks from high on Twin Lights by the concentration of boats there. The Shrewsbury Rocks are tall enough in places to merit not just one but two navigation buoys.
Images courtesy of
Donna L. Blaszcak
The low, shelf-like structure of the rocks, which seldom rise
more than two feet above the bottom. Cunners
These low outcroppings appear in small to large patches over a two mile area called the Klondike, and elsewhere, at depths ranging from 60 to 90 feet. The overhangs, crags, and holes afforded by the piles of rocks and boulders provide excellent homes for fish and lobsters. Visibility can be great here at times, but it is usually 10-20 ft, with a silty bottom in most places. The larger areas extend for many hundreds of feet, and an incautious diver can easily get lost. The stone itself is a type of sandstone known as Greensand, which occurs along the northern part of the New Jersey coast, and parts of Long Island, most famously as the Shrewsbury Rocks.
Captain Henry Beebe named this bank of high bottom off the central Jersey coast during the time of gold fever in the West. He ferried people from the Jersey beaches in small boats to drift from the pilot boat B Jordan, which he captained. He'd bring them to the Klondike Bank, thus named because of its rich treasure trove of fish. Many of the individual outcroppings are named after the fishing boat or captain that found the spot.
The rocks are riddled with fissures and fractures that run across the "grain".
A Sea Bass shelters in a nook. Yellow Boring Sponge on the left.
A pair of one-armed lobsters fights over a cave. Hydroids and Stony Coral.
A dogfish patrols an area where the rocks are more boulder-like than flat.
There are hundreds of small lumps and ridges such as this, stretching the entire length of the Jersey coast. The Manasquan Ridge and its East Lump is another example of these spots, as is the Harvey Cedar Lump, although there are many that show up on nautical charts as just small spots.
Sandstone from an outcropping near the Mohawk.
Facing is the broken-off interior edge. ( Approx. 7" )
I make no claim as to the accuracy, validity, or appropriateness of any information found in this website. I will not be responsible for the consequences of any action that is based upon information found here. Scuba diving is an adventure sport, and as always, you alone are responsible for your own safety and well being.
Copyright © 1996-2016 Rich Galiano
unless otherwise noted