By: Charlene Cristobal
June 9, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Wakulla and Franklin county will be getting some new underwater digs next week. Thanks to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Organization for Artificial Reefs (OAR), limestone structures from Orange Beach, Alabama will be coming in to create new homes for fish and wildlife off the coast.
The structures, about 15 feet tall and weigh over 18 tons, are about to make a landing in the Saint George Sound. Artificial reefs have been around Florida since about 1964, and next week another will take position.
FWC Spokesperson Amanda Nalley says, "We have several artificial reefs across Florida. Out of the 35 counties that are on the coast, 34 of them have an artificial reef program. Artificial reefs are a great opportunity for both increased fishing opportunities and increased diving opportunities."
The FWC and OAR will put 41 triangle shaped structures in the water to create new homes for fish and wildlife in the area. According to experts, the reefs will usually start seeing life move in as soon as 30 days after installation. But the FWC and OAR also say that the reefs won't just attract the fish...
"Most of our reefs are an attractant for people that both want to fish on them, as well as dive on them," Nalley says. "They definitely do help bring tourism dollars into the state, when people travel here and go offshore to go fish these reefs."
According to OAR's Chairman Alan Richardson, "Studies show that for every dollar in reef development fund that have been expended, roughly $130 or so come back to the community in the form of tourist dollars. We're hoping that this will help the economies of Franklin and Wakulla county."
The running total for this project is about $125,000.
This particular reef is important to a local family. The Camp family will be naming the reef after their son Dixon, who passed away five years ago.
The reef's install is set for sometime next week.