Today 500 tons of concrete reef material was placed offshore the Coast of Flagler County. The new artificial reef lies in about 70 feet of water and is roughly 24 miles south east of the St. Augustine Inlet. Pictures and video of the reef creation process below and more about the reef deployment, including a map and additional photos further down.
TISIRI's Joe Kistel and Ed Kalakauskis joined project contractor Max Moody, his Daughter Lisa, and machine operator Bryant on the ride out to the reef site. At about 10:30 am the barge arrived at the marked reef site (previously marked by Carl Blow and Amy Kennedy) and began positioning for anchoring. At 11:06 am machine operator Bryant tossed the first piece of reef concrete into the ocean. This large piece was used as the bow anchor of the barge. Shortly after the stern anchor, another large piece of concrete, was dropped in as well. Anchors in place and the barge stationary, Bryant continued place material into the ocean. Due to the nature of the machine used and the layout of the barge, each piece of concrete had to be individually picked up and dropped in the ocean.
The location of the reef site is shown below.
Conditions offshore couldn't have been more favorable from a weather standpoint. There was very little wind and thus relatively calm flat sees with just a hint of small groundswell. Ideal weather such as this greatly improves the safety and overall accuracy of reef creation.
Captain Max transported Kalakauskis and Kistel to a nearby barge artificial reef to preform an observation dive while waiting on the reef deployment activities. Prior to entering the water the divers notice large quantities of bait fish at the surface and anticipated a good dive. When they entered the water they were surrounded by these bait fish and the water was crystal clear. As they descended the crstal clear water turned to muck at about 50 feet deep while a drastic thermocline was entered. At the seafloor the visbility was reduced to about 5 feet.
Kistel and Kalakauskis explored the barge as best as possible in the low visibility conditions. The barge reef appeared healthy and abundant with life. One interesting note reported from the dive is that it appeared the was a large quantity of juvenile sea bass. Perhaps these juveniles are the offspring of resident sea bass. Pictures of the dive below.
After the dive Captain Max returned to the reef barge where the rest of teh deployed was monitored and photographed by Kistel. After the deployment was complete the barge and its tug started is long journey back to Jacksonville and Captain Max anchored his vessel over the new reef. Kistel and Kalakauskis once again enter the water and are the first two divers to dive the Grady Prather Reef.
The conditions were similar with the surface area of water very clear and the sea floor dark and murky. The divers could barely see the structure but did notice some interesting stacked piles of concrete. The divers also reported one sea bass and a squid.