Revitalizing the Gulf: Over 275 Artificial Reefs Deployed off Destin-Fort Walton Beach

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The aquamarine waters of the Gulf of Mexico now host hundreds of new underwater habitats thanks to a monumental $1.26 million artificial reef project, generously funded by the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Fund. This ambitious initiative saw the deployment of 279 reef structures across 133 distinct sites, with the reefs varying in size from 6 to 25 feet. Spearheaded by the Coastal Resources team within Okaloosa County’s Tourism Development Department, the project marks a significant milestone in marine conservation for Destin-Fort Walton Beach. These reefs are not only the most numerous but also among the deepest ever deployed in the area, ranging from 65 to 292 feet beneath the surface. “This is an impressive effort to enhance the habitats for marine life in the Gulf of Mexico waters,” said Okaloosa County Board Chairman Paul Mixon. “This is a great example of how we continue to work to be good stewards of the environment that we depend on for our fishing and tourism industries.” Among the highlights of this project are the pioneering 3D-printed reef modules, deployed in late February, marking the first of their kind in the Gulf of Mexico. This innovative approach is part of a broader effort that spanned six deployment days from February to early May, expertly executed by contractors Walter Marine and 1Print. Images courtesy of the Okaloosa Public Information Office Funding for this entire project was secured through a grant from the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Fund, administered by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “I am extremely proud of the work that was done to complete this extensive project,” said Alex Fogg, Coastal Resources Manager for Destin-Fort Walton Beach. “Our area of the Gulf of Mexico is lacking in natural reef structures for marine life to thrive, which is something we are working to change. Not only do artificial reefs create essential habitat for native species here in the Gulf, but they also provide ideal locations for fishermen and divers to visit.” The successful completion of this project signifies a major step forward in marine conservation efforts, benefiting both marine biodiversity and the local economy reliant on fishing and tourism. These new artificial reefs promise to transform the underwater landscape, offering refuge and resources for countless marine species while creating vibrant new spots for recreational fishing and diving enthusiasts. To view coordinates for these and other reefs off of Destin-Fort Walton Beach click here. Read all about the Underwater Museum of Art off Grayton Beach here.  https://30a.com/artificial-reefs-destin-fort-walton-beach/

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