Traditional artificial reef structures are designed with uniform cellular architectures and topologies and do not mimic natural reef forms. Strings and ropes are a proven, common fisheries and mariculture construction element throughout the world and using them as artificial reef scaffolding can enable a diversity of ocean sensing, communications systems including the goal of sentinel reefs. The architecture and packaging of electronics is key to enabling such structures and systems. The distributed sensor reef concept leads toward a demonstrable science-engineering-informed framework for 3D smart habitat designs critical to stock fish development and coastal monitoring and protection. These nature-inspired' reef infrastructures, can enable novel instrumented reef observatories' capable of collecting real-time ecosystem data. Embedding lighting and electronic elements into artificial reef systems are the first systems conceptualized. This approach of bringing spatial light to the underwater world for optical sensing, communication and even a new breed of underwater robotic vehicle is an interdisciplinary research activity which integrates principles of electronic packaging, and ocean technology with art/design.