OAR expands Dog Island’s underwater structure

Published: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 01:01 PM.

Richardson said the deployment, conducted by Walter Marine, out of Orange Beach, Alabama, included three Super Reefs, large concrete and limestone prefabricated reef structures, that tower 15 feet above the Gulf sea floor in 60 feet of water.  The placement of the Super Reef forms is framed with 10 eight-foot tall reef structures known as "Florida Specials,” which incorporate native Florida limestone as part of their makeup.   All total, this project will utilize three Super Reefs, and 30 Florida Specials.

Walter Marine’s website says Florida Limestone rock is comprised of ancient clam shells and matches a natural reef in both PH and substrate. Used previously in boulder form for artificial reefs, Walter said it developed a patented process to embed the rock into the concrete reef surface, and that boring organisms that dwell on artificial reefs cannot survive on a concrete reef but easily make the Florida Limestone reef their home.

Richardson said the deployment costs about $125,000, paid for by a $55,000 grant from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Division of Marine Fisheries’ Artificial Reefs Program; a $15,000 match from the city of Carrabelle that came from OAR; and about $47,000 in additional private donations.

Funds from the Big Bend Saltwater Classic have helped OAR complete its mission. State and federal funds come from a fee tacked on to recreational fishing licenses, and from excise taxes that people pay on boats, motors, tackle, and the like.

“We could not have been able to make this reef project a reality without the support of the city of Carrabelle, namely City Administrator Courtney Millender,” said Richardson. “The city appreciates the increased opportunities for tourism that a project of this magnitude brings.  It has been reported that for every dollar spent in reef development, $138 in tourism dollars are returned back to the coastal communities.”

The state grant came after more than $1 million in requests came in for a half-million dollars in available grant funds, and Franklin and Wakulla counties each received $55,000.

The project envisioned for the City of St. Marks is a realignment and enlargement of the St Marks Reef, first deployed in 1964. OAR, through the City of St. Marks, will be deploying over 75 prefab reef modules in a depth of 20 feet, and is also matching $15,000 for this effort.  “OAR has submitted the grant paperwork to the FWC, and we are currently moving this project through the proper channels,” said Richardson.

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