Today was the first drop of the bridge pilings reef deployment offshore the coast of St. Augustine Fl.
The day started at 7:30am at the Comanche Cove Marina where we boarded the Sailfish II. The gracious captain and crew of the vessel welcomed TISIRI divers and event participants aboard the spacious bill- fishing vessel. We were off to the future reef site.
At approximately 7 miles east of the St Augustine inlet we approach the reef site area in which the artificial reef material is to be deployed. The perimeter corners of the area had already been marked with buoys prior to our arrival. Everything appeared in place for the deployment; the reef area was clearly marked and support and press vessel were in place. Now we just had to wait for the barge of material to arrive. And wait we did; it turns out that the tug boat (pushing the barge) was having engine problems. It wasn’t until the early afternoon before the tug and barge arrived on site.
To keep busy the captain of the Sailfish II put us over a nearby live bottom area for a comparison dive. We preformed an observation dive and collected video and photo documentation of the area. It was a live bottom site consisting of low relief rock crevices. Visibility was limited to about 15 feet but there was no missing the amount of sea life. The majority of fish life observed was Seabass, Sheephead, Triggerfish, and some grouper. This area makes a good reference location to compare the new reef site to as it evolves. See the attached video and pictures of the dive.
There was also time for a little fishing in which a large cobia was caught and our video captures the excitement of the catch.
The barge finally arrived and started unloading. The process took much longer than anticipated and the Sailfish II had to return to shore prior to the barge being completely unloaded. In fact it wasn’t until 7:30pm before the barge was emptied.
We had time for one more dive where we encountered a curious turtle and a seahorse. See the video.
Stay tuned for a future update regarding the artificial reef deployment. We should be diving the site in the near future.