PONTE VEDRA, Fla. -- First Coast News was the only television station to travel aboard a Coast Guard ship as a 33 member team worked to create an artificial reef on Monday.
Twelve miles east of Ponte Vedra heavy blocks of concrete aboard a Coast Guard Cutter were dropped into the ocean.
Joe Kistel, Executive Director of TISIRI, a marine conservation organization, said it was a carefully planned operation.
"Today we are doing something different with the help of the Coast Guard. We are actually going to use these old buoy anchors and what these are the anchors that held navigational aides offshore in place. The Coast Guard as a maintenance routine has to go and replace these occasionally. So we partnered with the Coast Guard to take these old anchors and to build an artificial reef," said Kistel.
The 60,000 pounds of concrete are being used to create a relatively small reef next to existing artificial reefs.
The goal of this reef is research.
"We are placing this reef right before they place a much larger reef. Probably in late July or August we will build a much larger reef about the size of a football field. This will serve as a control project for that larger reef. That larger reef will be designed primarily for the fisherman and community to go out and catch fish and enjoy the environment," explained Kistel.
But it's not only the fishermen and community who benefit from artificial reefs.
"What happens over time is this structure will serve as a foundation for the colonization of corals, algae, bacteria and as all of that stuff matures and grows it becomes shelter and food for basically all levels of the marine food chain. So by placing material like this over time we create sort of an ocean oasis that's benefiting the environment and also the community, recreation, commercial industries."
"We'll actually have grouper, snapper, king fish, barracuda...then the fisherman will take from that resource and sell it to our local restaurants and this overall impacts our community," said Ed Kalakauskis, an artificial reef consultant.
Kistel said researchers from Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida are planning on studying this reef and monitoring it regularly.
He expects bait fish to check out the new reef right away. Then those smaller fish will attract the larger fish in the next week or two, and over time the reef will sustain itself and get more diverse.
You can learn more about TISIRI by clicking here.
First Coast News