Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association (MBARA) volunteers finally took a break from home repairs to make their way into the Gulf of Mexico to check on some of the deeper artificial reefs.

They visited 11 reef systems in 87 to 103 feet of water and were amazed at what they found.

Seven of the sites had a total of 15 super reefs weighing approximately 36,000 pounds each.

They were surprised to find eight of the super reefs on their side. It appeared the current scoured away the sand on one of side of the reefs and then the force of the water eventually tipped them over in place.

The good news is damage to the reefs is minimal, and the fish, especially large snappers, loved the cavernous openings.

Two sites with eight-foot pyramids and grouper reefs were visited. A small portion of the pyramids tipped over, but there was no sign of movement.

The Duke Energy Reef, also known as the Shady Lady shrimp boat, used to be on its side. The storm pushed the boat upright. The pilot house is shredded and partially buried in the sand. But most astonishing of all is the number of tree trunks revealed when sand scoured away from the boat.

These tree trunks could be anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 years old. They are not petrified and will eventually be eaten away by marine organisms unless the sand covers them once again. We ask anyone diving this area to leave it undisturbed for the pleasure of others.

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We understand many of MBARA’s patrons are concerned about the condition of their memorial reefs. MBARA volunteers will start exploring those reefs and updating families as soon as time and dive conditions permit.