The Saint Joe Community Foundation generously awarded Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association (MBARA) a $50,000 grant for its artificial reef program. MBARA will add $79,900, for a total of $129,900 to build another large patch reef in the Sherman Site, approximately 12 miles from the Mexico Beach Canal and 14 miles from Saint Andrews Pass.
Depths should average between 75 and 80 feet deep. This reef deployment is in addition to the two large patch reefs MBARA recently deployed in the Sherman and Crooked Island Sites worth over $92,000.
MBARA will use the funds to build a linear reef, emulating a shipwreck or the natural hard bottom found in other parts of the State of Florida. The reef materials will be placed in a straight line and will include 13 eight-foot tall pyramids, nine 15-foot tall super reefs with ecosystems embedded in them, and two grouper ledges with ecosytems attached to the tops.
An ecosystem is a layered reef, with spaces between the layers for smaller fish and invertebrates to hide. This adds greatly to the complexity and diversity of a reef complex.
All the reef structures will have steel reinforcements, covered in concrete and chunks of Florida limestone. The softer limestone enables marine creatures to burrow and attach to the surface much quicker than they could on solid concrete. This encourages natural growth with the goal is to emulate the marine life on a natural reef, or hard bottom.
By placing the reefs in a straight line, it is easier for anglers to troll around the reef. It is also safer for divers, allowing them to easily navigate the structures in a straight line. The reefs will be 20 to 30 feet apart, so with good visibility divers will be able to see from one structure to the next.
MBARA thanks the Saint Joe Community Foundation for making this new reef possible. It will be a great addition to the area for many years to come.
If you are interested in helping to plan and program new reefs, please become a member of MBARA and get involved. Contact MexicoBeachReefs@gmail.com for more information. Also, if you want to support MBARA and more reefs, please visit our website to shop online or donate, www.MBARA.org.