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Artificial reefs Installed off of St. George Island

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 11:54 AM EDT
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WAKULLA COUNTY, Fla. (WCTV) - From a contractor in Alabama to Apalachicola, artificial reefs were installed off the coast of St. George Island Thursday afternoon. Locals here sunk them about eight miles off the coast.

The Apalachicola Artificial Reef Association motored past Bob Sike’s Cut, where a boat with a crane and 35 artificial reefs were waiting.

“We got that site and picked it to enable also close and easy navigation, and it’s only eight miles and straight south from the cut.” Captain Tommy Robinson, an Apalachicola Artificial Reef Association board member, explained.

The 8-foot tall, pyramid-shaped reefs were carefully placed on the sandy bottom of the gulf Thursday afternoon, designed to create shelter for fish like snapper and grouper, as well as other sea life.

“They have to have a certain type, not necessarily shape, but certain features to protect the turtles. They have holes so fish can come in and out of them. They all weigh about 6,000 pounds per unit.” William Mudd, the President of the Apalachicola Artificial Reef Association, described.

The sandy bottom in this stretch of the Gulf of Mexico was not always a friendly environment for fish.

“When you dive down there, it’s just sand with ripples, so when a school of bay fish comes along, there’s no place for it to hide. So it keeps moving until it finds somewhere that it can hide.” Tommy said.

These reefs have been installed across the Gulf Coast, including Mexico Beach, with great success in bringing in marine life. Underwater footage, seen in the video above, is from a reef installed in Walton County in 2018 and 2019. It shows several schools of fish swimming through the concrete habitat. The reefs are not just beneficial for sea creatures.

“It creates bottom habitat for these local fish, which in turn creates additional fishing locations. There’ll be public coordinates for charter captains and private anchors to go fish off these sites, so it’s kind of a win, win.” Mudd stated.

It’s an investment in the environment that provides for communities along the Forgotten Coast.

The project cost $70,000, and 85% of that money was from an FWC grant. The Apalachicola Artificial Reef Association says it wants to install more of these and is asking for outside donations.

The reefs were installed in Wakulla County, off the coast of St. Marks Friday morning, to enhance “Dog Ballard Reef.”

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