The artificial reefs of Volusia CountyVolusia County's artificial reef program was initiated in the 1970s as a result of requests from local commercial and recreational fisherman. Permits were obtained from the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, and the county's first artificial reef was constructed in 1980 with the sinking of World War II cargo ship the USS Mindanao. It sits in 85 feet of water approximately 11 miles northeast of Ponce Inlet.
Volusia County continues to build artificial reefs because they:
Diminish beach erosion
Improve surfing, fishing and diving opportunities
Provide relief to local natural reefs
Facilitate reef-related research
Now there are more than 60 reefs in 13 sites, scattered from five to 12 nautical miles offshore. The county plans to add more each year. It has been observed that small fish arrive within days of placement of a new reef and soon after marine habitats develop with a variety of fish, shrimp and crabs. Sport fishing can begin over that area in about a year.
For detailed site information and GPS coordinates, visit the Volusia Reefs page at www.volusiareefs.org/reefsiteinfo.htm.
Materials for artificial reefs come from recycled and unused sources such as concrete culverts, ship and aircraft structures, barges, old car carriers and bridge parts that have been prepared to comply with guidelines set to protect the environment. What's more, a good portion of the materials is donated to the program through local businesses.
When exploring the reefs, fish species such as grunts, grouper, manta rays, sharks, angelfish, amberjacks, lionfish and flounder may be seen. The reef also a home to invertebrates such as telesto, regal sea fan, yellow sea whip, ivory brush coral, cup coral, encrusting and boring sponges, sea pork and white eye sea spray.
Florida has one of the most active artificial reef programs on the east coast. With exception of Maryland, it is the only program not run exclusively by state offices.
Volusia County's artificial reef program is supported by funding from the Port Authority, contributions and volunteer efforts.
For current program information, visit www.volusiareefs.org. This website is maintained by the Volusia County Reef Research Dive Team. Its members are experienced open-water divers who monitor an document conditions on the reefs. If you are interested in volunteering, contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.