Artificial reefs create new way to protect waterways, fight red tide

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne
Published: Updated:
Artificial reefs being installed at Vanderbilt Beach (WINK News)

LaPlaya on Vanderbilt Beach has a new tool to protect its waterway and help fight red tide.

Two artificial reefs were installed Monday.

“We fell victim to some pretty bad bouts of red tide,” said LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort Managing Director Marco Perry. “Luckily, not for a while.”

Perry is no stranger to red tide. “There’s a lot of education that goes about telling people what red tide is and how it has a mind of its own sometimes,” he said.

But with the help of Ocean Habitat’s artificial reefs, “We think this is a great first step in helping not only bouts of red tide, but this is really also for the marine life, the biodiversity and the environment,” Perry said.

“We determined that each mini reef, once fully developed, it does take between six and 12 months depending on location,” said President and Executive Director of Ocean Habitats David Wolff. “They’ll filter about, on average, about 30,000 gallons of water per day.”

This is what a batch of reefs looks like just after 10 months.

Existing artificial reefs (Ocean Habitats)

“It’s all about getting those nutrients out of the water,” said Marine Scientist Garrett Stuart with the Eco Preservation Project.

“Each one will help about 300 fish and 200 crabs go from just born, to big enough to have a decent chance of survival,” Wolff said.

When it comes to overcoming water issues, “There’s been some bad times and luckily we’ve had a lot more good times that outweigh the bad times,” Perry said.

The reefs will help reel in more of the good times.

The resort hopes to install 23 more artificial reefs over the course of the next year to boost biodiversity and clean water in the bay.

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