In the summer of 2009 several reef balls created by the students and faculty of Mandarin High School were placed 12 miles offshore Ponte Vedra Florida (Grant FWC-08259). This past Sunday the reef balls were visited to examine their progress as reef structures and below is brief compilation of video clips of the now thriving habitat.
This is the first time TISIRI divers have seen the reef balls since their placement in 2009. Divers have tried to locate them on pervious dives, when exploring the much larger reef site, but have never been able to find them. It is an amusing story how the reef balls were encountered on this trip. Divers assumed the first dive made that day was at the 2009 deployment site where the reef balls are located but to their disappointment they never found the structures on that dive. On the second dive it was assumed they were at the 2011 deployment site (where there are no reef balls). Joe Kistel was acting as cameraman while Larry Davis was eradication lionfish. Kistel was filming a buried Southern ray when a turtle came by and then started swimming away. Kistel followed the turtle which led him to a pile of reef balls! It was almost as if the turtle meant to lead him the way. Well it turns out there was a slight communication misunderstaning with the captain and that the divers were actually on the 2009 deployment during their second dive.
Three different sized reef balls were placed in a random configuration. Some structures were separated by a bit of distance from other structures while some were clustered in piles. Most reef balls were upright but a few were on their side or even upside down. Regardless, the concrete base structures are drawing significant attention from northeast Florida marine life. In the video you can see the structures are encrusted with a diversity of invertebrate life and a countless amount of fish can be seen. Some of the marine life feature includes a sea turtle, Greater Amberjack, and Tomtate grunts.
A big thanks Larry Davis, Divetalking.com, and Capt Dan Offshore Dive Charters for helping provide the resources to capture this imagery. Thanks for visiting.