Good news for South Padre Island fishing. Good news for our Kinpadre beachfront condo rental guests. Friends of RGV have created a new 400-acre artificial reef nursery 12 miles north of the South Padre Island jetties. This reef is by far the largest reef off the Texas coast, and it could be the largest in the world. Creating habitat on a flat seafloor offers young fish with places to escape predators, so more survive. More baby fish means more adults and great fishing.
Composed of a specially designed shape, materials, and size, the reef attracted tens of thousands of juvenile snapper almost immediately, not to mention boats and anglers. It was estimated that the reef carried 240,000 snapper from juvenile stage to adults from 2017 to 2019. These are young unsophisticated fish, easy to catch.
Fishermen have known for years that a shipwreck offers prime space for finding fish. Not only fish, but coral, sponges, and other sea life.
Most shipwrecks are the result of accidents or warfare, but ocean resource agencies have used purposeful sinking. Ships are prepared to be diver and ocean safe and purposely sunk for the creation of an artificial reef. However, it takes years for the growth of coral and sponges and the establishment of colonies of small fish. Large fish predators like barracuda follow.
Here is the, Duane, sunk 120 feet beneath the surface several miles out from Key Largo, Florida. It’s 25 years old, and although still obviously ship-shaped, the mother ocean, and large amounts of her life forms are beginning to take it over and make it home.
The Duane, a 327 foot cutter, had an impressive war and peace-time record. She was donated to the Keys Association of Dive Operators for use as an artificial reef. On November 27, 1987, she was towed to Molasses Reef, her hatches opened, her holds pumped full of water, and she went down to begin her final assignment.But it took 25 years to develop this far.
Costs of constructed reefs like the RGV have often run into large sums of money, but many donations of labor, equipment, and material have kept the cost of the project low. The RGV reef was supposed to take decades to finish and $20 million. But Friends of RGV secured donated deep-water port facilities, professional services, equipment, and management. That and more has helped to keep costs low.
These artificial reefs are made of environmentally safe materials, anything from concrete, retired oil platforms, sunken barges or ships. They are sunk from inches to 150 feet below the surface. They bring increased area for coral formation, habitat for fish colonies, and opportunities for sport diving and fishing. Thanks to the Friends of RGV reef, increased colonies of sport enthusiasts, diners, and lodgers at South Padre Island hotels and vacation rentals should be the happy result.