MBARA Deploys New Reefs


A pyramid-shaped Florida Limestone Artificial Reef is deployed.

Carol and Bob Cox
Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 08:54 AM.

Anglers and divers have 19 new reefs to visit thanks to the efforts of the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association (MBARA), the City of Mexico Beach, and support from numerous organizations and members. 

On Saturday, April 6, 62 reef modules worth over $91,000, found new resting places off the shores of Mexico Beach.  The City of Mexico Beach received a $60,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Fund and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). 

The rest came from donations, membership, fund raising, and three fishing tournaments--the annual MBARA Kingfish Tournament, the Mexico Beach Marina Offshore Classic, and the 98 Real Estate Group Ling Ding.

Reef modules of varying design, each weighing over 5,000 pounds, were placed in 19 locations, with one to eight structures submerged at each site.  The reef modules, all made with steel reinforced concrete and limestone rock, include pyramids, rectangular grouper modules, layer-cake shaped ecosystems, and a new hybrid reef that consists of a grouper module topped by a small ecosystem. 

This is the first time the hybrid reefs have been deployed in Florida, and MBARA research divers are anxious to find out what type of marine life will be attracted to them. 

According to MBARA research diver Carol Cox, “Different structures attract different fish.  Amberjack and red snappers are attracted to taller structures such as the pyramids, the grouper units act as low limestone ledges that are preferred by groupers, and ecosystems are a magnet for black sea bass.  We find that placing different types of structures together has a dynamic effect, greatly increasing diversity on the reef.  We hope the hybrid reef with its height, ledge, and crevices will attract the greatest diversity we have seen on any single artificial reef.”

During this deployment, MBARA added reefs to six existing sites that have become difficult to find over the years.  MBARA President, Bob Cox, said, “It is important to maintain these reefs in honor of the people they were named after.” 

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