So aesthetics are all that matters? If that is the case lets just raze all of LABackpacker/mountaineer/cross-country skier types (the take only photographs, and leave only footprints guys) are about as diverse as they come. No self respecting mountaineer would allow himself to be merely confused as a backpacker. XC types don't need no freaking chair lifts.
But they all share one thing: they depend on the mountains for the enjoyment of their sport.
The ocean really is no different. And while a diver/wrecker/caver are about as diverse as they come (no self respecting wreck diver would allow himself to be merely confused as a "diver") - they do all share one thing: they depend on the water for the enjoyment of their sport.
The thing is: the mountains are prettier when there are trees. When there are squirrels scampering about, when there are meadows and deer and birds. Nobody hikes in a desert. No sane person, at least.
Same with the ocean. The ocean is a lot prettier when there are fish, and kelp, and metridiums and nudi's scampering about. And the thing is this: An artificial reef can do that.
Like a spring busting up in a desert, creating a beautiful oasis, an artificial reef, dropped in the right place can turn acres and acres of barren sand (something we have an awful lot of here in SoCal) into an oasis for thousands of people to enjoy every year.
Turning acres of unsightly, unused, unseen, uncharted, undisturbed, uninhabited into an oasis where fish can hang out, where algae can grow, where people can dive and enjoy, where other people can learn and profit from - I'm really finding a hard time locating the down side.
You made both sides of the wreck / reef argument yourself. Sure, its not a 'wreck' - like a reservoir isn't a lake. But you know, we fish from them, and the trout taste great from either one.
I'm not a wreck diver - I'll never warm to the "its not a real wreck" side of things, and glance askew at something like the Yukon. Its a big boat in the water - and like any big anything in the middle of the sand (be it desert of ocean) its going to attract a crowd.
Here's to people that actually dive these things and don't sit in municipal offices pushing their personal aesthetic clothed in the pop environmental science of the moment.
I'm a SoCal, and I support carefully considered, thoughtfully created Artificial Wrecks sunk for the pleasure of divers and for the abundance of sealife life they support.