Alabama Marine Resources doubles size of three nearshore snorkel reefs

By Melanie LeCroy
Posted 7/8/20

Alabama Marine Resources Division is doubling the size of three existing nearshore snorkel reefs with the help of Orange Beach based Walter Marine.

In the summer of 2018, three circalittoral reefs …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Alabama Marine Resources doubles size of three nearshore snorkel reefs

Posted

Alabama Marine Resources Division is doubling the size of three existing nearshore snorkel reefs with the help of Orange Beach based Walter Marine.

In the summer of 2018, three circalittoral reefs were built offshore in Baldwin County and completed in the fall of 2018. The three are located at Alabama Point, Gulf State Park Pavilion and Gulf State Park Romar Beach Access.

Alabama Point and the Gulf State Park Romar Beach Access reefs originally had 42 modules and is increasing to roughly 142. The reef at Gulf State Park Pavilion originally consisted of 82 modules and is increasing to roughly 182 modules.

The circalittoral reefs consist of circular concrete disks anchored by a piling that is set into the seabed 14-15 feet. Each reef is located approximately 500 feet from the beach in water depths ranging from nine to 23 feet of water and is easily accessed using a paddleboard or kayak. You can expect to see small organisms such a sponges and seahorses and larger fish such as sheepshead and gray snapper.

“For young swimmers or people that are not strong swimmers, I would suggest taking a kayak or paddleboard, something that you can rest on. With that being said, I would not suggest it at all for someone that is not a strong swimmer,” said Craig Newton, artificial reef coordinator, Alabama Marine Resources Division.

The $1.2 million project is financed by fines collected from the Deep Horizon oil spill. The Alabama Marine Resources Division uses the funds on projects that mitigate the damage such as habitat enhancement projects.

“These circalittoral reefs are just a small portion of our larger plan of increasing habitat not only in the circalittoral zone but also in the estuaries of Mobile Bay and Perdido Bay, six to 9 miles offshore and also deeper water habitats 10 to 50 miles out,” said Newton.

Artificial reefs are built using materials of opportunity such as repurposed concrete pipes and culverts, pyramid reef modules and ships.

“We are trying to diversify the types of habitat that are available for a wide range of marine organisms that occur in Mobile Bay as far north as Daphne all the way to the deeper water habitats 50 miles offshore,” Newton said.

The Alabama Marine Resources Division has an extensive habitat monitoring program utilizing remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and high definition video to count fish and evaluate the community structure of the organisms using the reefs.

“We evaluate the quality of the habitat in terms of whether or not the structure has subsided, broken down or been damaged by storms. We keep a close eye on how the structures are performing,” Newton said.

For more information or coordinates to the three circalittoral reef sites visit https://www.outdooralabama.com/artificial-reefs/circalittoral-reefs