New artificial reef created off Jacksonville coast

Local group and U.S. Coast Guard make project possible

By Mark Collins - Meteorologist

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Nine ton blocks deposited Friday into the waters offshore of Ponte Vedra Beach will soon be home to thousands of marine fish.

It's all part of a new artificial reef that's under construction. While the project is still in its early stages, the plan is for it to become a hotspot for anglers and scuba divers alike.

The project will require several more trips and materials -- like culverts, buoy moorings and precast concrete -- before it's complete, but it could be done by September.

The artificial reef is the brainchild of Think It Sink It Reef It, a local nonprofit that seeks that shore up livable habitats for marine life that can double as recreational opportunities for the adventurous.

TISIRI received help Friday from the Coastal Conservation Association laying the reef perimeter in the shape of a diamond, the second drop made this week about 12 miles east of Ponte Vedra Beach.

Up next, a barge will be brought in to deliver more concrete to complete the construction project.

Building a reef is no easy feat. It's also very dangerous work requiring a Coast Guard team to tackle the mission aboard the 175-foot Maria Bray.

The Coast Guard maintains coastal navigation buoys, and it turns out the cement mooring anchors that hold them in place make for the perfect building block for reefs once the moorings are retired.

Growth will appear in just months and soon a living reef will be taking over a bottom that was once a sandy barren ocean floor.

Waypoint coordinates for the reef are 30'12.690N 8111.784' W and you can follow the project along at TISIRI

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