Monmouth University graduate Chris Wojcik’s dream may finally come to fruition later this month.
After months spent planning and building his Wojcik’s ultimate plan – to put the crab on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean – is planned for the last week of August.
Or should we say, planned again. The crab originally was scheduled to be sunk on July 25, but one of the summer’s many storms disrupted that and forced postponement.
“I told my wife the other day I feel like I’m nine and a half months pregnant,” the Point Pleasant resident said with a laugh on Thursday afternoon. “I just want to get it out.”
A break in the weather that will allow for the sinking appears to be coming up Aug. 28, 29 and 30, he said, at which time all the parties involved — including the state Division of Fish and Wildlife's Bureau of Marine Fisheries, which oversees the state's artificial reef system and the deployment of materials and structures onto its 15 sites, and the captains involved in moving the horseshoe crab and its pair of 50-foot barges into place for the sinking — will likely move quickly to get the crab sunk.
For Wojcik, this is very much his baby. The idea to build such a sculpture and sink it percolated in his thoughts for 10 years, until finally the time was right to follow through on the idea. And it has been a labor of love for the artist/marine biologist, whose resume of marine involvement is extensive and includes such diverse activities as shooting footage for the Discovery Channel's "Shark Week" series and building habitats for zoos and aquariums.
Raising the funds to build the crab, then the actual construction (with friends and fellow Point Pleasant residents Mark Giampietro and Matthew Lees) to more fundraising to pay for the actual sinking have been, step by step, all orchestrated by Wojcik, who has a website, artasreef.com, dedicated to the project.
The sinking alone was expected to cost at least $30,000, said Wojcik, a 1986 graduate of Point Pleasant Beach High School and a 1991 graduate of Monmouth University. And it may not be the last. He has said he hopes to build a series of underwater sculptures. Next on the list may be a summer flounder, he said in an interview in December.
The crab is to be deployed in 80 feet of water on the Axel Carlson Reef, which lies 4.4 nautical miles southeast of Manasquan Inlet. The Axel Carlson Reef is one of 15 artificial reefs that make up New Jersey's artificial reef program.
The crab — constructed of the same concrete mixture the state uses to make reef balls, the giant concrete balls with holes and nooks and crannies that populate many of the state's reefs — will become an entry in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest underwater sculpture, according to the Division of Fish and Wildlife's press release on the previously scheduled sinking.
The GPS coordinates for the target location for the deployment on the reef are:
73 59.300' 40 01.700'
A map of the Axel Carlson site itself and a map of the state's entire artificial reef network, from the Division of Fish and Wildlife's artificial reef program website, are attached to this article.
If the weather cooperates, Wojcik said, the crab — which is welded to the two 50-foot barges — will be towed from behind the Shipwreck Grill in Brielle, which it has called home for a year now, out of Manasquan Inlet at roughly 6 a.m. the day of the sinking. Observer boats and others wishing to watch the sinking will be kept at a safe distance from the actual deployment but should be able to see it clearly.
And if past history is any indicator, it shouldn't take long before the crab is a fully developed habitat, full of the species that inhabit the waters off the Jersey shoreline.
And that is just how Wojcik wants it.