While many recognize Pinellas County for its award-winning beaches, just off the shore is something just as impressive – 42 artificial reef sites stretching from St. Pete Beach to Tarpon Springs. Of those, 13 are inshore including one in Tampa Bay, only 200 yards away from the former St. Pete Pier*. The remaining 29 are offshore.
Completed in 2006, the inshore program utilized the expertise of marine biologists and engineers to address habitats impacted by beach re-nourishment programs. Artificial reefs are habitat restoration tools.
The inshore reefs can be found in less than 15 feet of water and typically occupy 150 square feet. Two weeks after installation, algae and barnacles began to attach to the materials. With a ready food source, fish then followed. Today these projects are home to numerous species of fish because within one year, coral began to grow.
To the question, “What materials were used to create the reefs?” The non-polluting materials were from area bridges – concrete pipes and steel beams, Army tanks, a barge, a former Coast Guard cutter, shrimp boats and tugs.
*The well-known landmark is currently under construction. Scheduled to open in early 2019, it will become part of the Pier District encompassing the promenade and pier.