Hernando Times Article. http://www.tampabay.com/news/environment/scubanauts-volunteers-assist-with-artificial-reef-project-off-hernando/2339000
SCUBAnauts volunteers assist with artificial reef project off Hernando coast
Hernando County’s multi-part plan to boost local waterways through artificial reef projects kicked off last month when more than 600 tons of concrete material were dumped into the Gulf of Mexico atop the existing Bendickson Reef.
On Sunday, the second part of the project — involving reef balls, or man-made concrete structures used to repair ailing reefs and promote healthy habitats for fish — got moving, too, much of it with the help of some unlikely volunteers.
Seventeen youth ages 12 to 18 from SCUBAnauts, a local marine science education program founded in 2001, gathered in Hernando Beach to create four reef balls to be dropped into the gulf next month.
County Commissioner Wayne Dukes says the structures will find their resting place in shallow waters, creating a reef fit for recreational activities, like fishing, snorkeling and diving, to help the county to live up to its newly adopted “Adventure Coast” slogan.
He says data from the state shows an $8 dollar return on every dollar spent on artificial reefs, resulting from increases in commercial and recreational water activities supported by the expansions.
“This is going to bring a lot more recreational opportunities to Hernando County, and that is good for the quality of life of our residents and tourists,” he said.
Dukes tipped his hat to the SCUBAnauts volunteers, whose involvement in the county’s plans began months ago, when they were enlisted by county waterways manager Keith Kolasa to do standardized underwater surveys of proposed reef sites.
While waterway projects are mostly fueled by the county’s $14 million BP settlement from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the gulf, county officials say those dollars are still stretched tight and only available in increments over a 15-year payout period.
Without SCUBAnauts, the county would have had to hire scientists to survey the sites for information required to get project permits and move forward, while services from the group were free.
“I give them all the credit. … They have helped us tremendously through this whole process,” Dukes said. “Their volunteer services have saved us both time and revenue.”
SCUBAnauts president and CEO Paul Foisy said in his mind, the partnership helps his organization just as much as it has helped the county.
“This isn’t something your typical teenager does, and a lot of them don’t even realize the magnitude of what they are doing,” Foisy said, adding that the group also does regular survey work in the Florida Keys. “We are all about hands-on experience. … This is that.”
SCUBAnauts member Diana Phillips, 15, said the best part about helping communities like Hernando County with waterway projects is knowing how long-lasting her work will be.
“Us being kids and being able to make something that will last hundreds of years is a big deal,” Phillips said. “It’s good for our future and the community’s future at the same time.”
Much of the funding for Sunday’s project came from 19-year-old Cole Kolasa, son of Keith Kolasa and a longtime SCUBAnauts member who now attends the University of Central Florida. Over the summer, he kayaked from the Florida Panhandle to the Everglades while blogging and collecting donations for the county’s reef projects.
Kolasa raised about $3,200, which was used to purchase the four reef ball molds used by SCUBAnauts, as well as concrete and other materials.
Once the reef balls are dropped, Foisy said, the SCUBAnauts members will return regularly to monitor them. Kolasa, a sophomore marine biology major, said he will, too, and hopes to have the university study the sites and their effect on seawater in the area.
“It’s really exciting what is happening, especially because I grew up in Hernando County and now I am able to do research and actually be able to make a difference and see results,” he said. “I’m excited to see change actually happening.”
Contact Megan Reeves at email@example.com. Follow @mareevs.
Some photos by Larry Beggs
There are some Reef Balls that seem to be way underwater along the texas coast. One of the sites I have been watching is Oyster Lake. The image below shows a lot of sediment moving down the rivers and into the Gulf. My hope is to find that the Reef Balls have captured a lot of sediment. Time will tell.
There is a sequence of before and after that is also interesting as the image of the day. That link will probably change over time.
It will be at the American Fisheries Annual Meeting in Tampa, FL
June 20 2017 Chesapeake Bay Magazine
Tilghman Manmade Reef to Double in Size
On Wednesday, 140 concrete reef balls will be planted on the Tilghman Reef, off Tilghman Island.
The reef balls were built by students in STEM education programs, in Carroll and and Anne Arundel counties as well as Vienna, Virginia. The addition of the new reef balls will double the current size of the reef, making it one of the largest man-made, three-dimensional reefs in the Maryland part of the Bay.
The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) Maryland and Northern Virginia Chapters and the Building Conservation Trust, CCA’s National Habitat Program, will plant the reef balls.
Half of the 140 reef balls being deployed this summer were set with oyster spat. When the reef was started a year ago, just 72 reef balls were deployed. Stevenson University scientist Dr. Keith Johnson is monitoring the reef. Dr. Johnson estimates there were up to 2,000 juvenile oysters in each reef ball that was deployed last July.
The reef provides habitat for fish, oysters and other filter feeders. It also attracts fish, making it a great spot for recreational fishing.
CCA invites folks to join in this time around: Wednesday June 21, 2017 for our next deployment and be part of the fun and help the bay! See www.ccamd.org for details.
Retreived from: https://www.chesapeakebaymagazine.com/baybulletin/2017/6/20/manmade-reef-to-double-in-size
From the Baltimore Sun
A broad partnership led by the Maryland and Virginia chapters of the Coastal Conservation Association, a group of recreational anglers, dumped nearly 150 of them overboard just off the shores of Tilghman Island. They were laid alongside 72 reef balls that were dropped last year.
The project united the anglers with environmentalists, business sponsors and students for a common objective: cleaning the Chesapeake for the sake of its ecology and for its economic power.
The strategy for restoring the bay’s oyster population has become divisive in recent years, with debates over where watermen should be allowed to harvest and how much of the shellfish population should be held in sanctuary.
Projects such as the Tilghman Island reef show the industry and science don’t have to be at odds, said Del. Robert Flanagan, who joined Schoberg and two Carroll County teachers Wednesday to watch the new reef be built.
“We can have sanctuaries and still have this thriving industry,” the Ellicott City Republican said. “We can do both.”
The Coastal Conservation Association funded the $20,000 project largely through its Building Conservation Trust, a program that aims to restore or create new habitats for fish and other marine organisms.
It pulled in the support of groups such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation whose ship, the Patricia Campbell, was used to ferry and drop the reef balls, and companies like Lehigh Heidelberg Cement Group, which supplied the concrete, said David Sikorski, executive director of the association’s Maryland chapter.
And they employed the labor of students from across the bay watershed — including a handful of Carroll County schools, the Anne Arundel Center For Applied Technology North, and James Madison High School in Vienna, Va.
About half of the reef balls planted Wednesday were each covered in about 2,000 baby oysters, grown by the bay foundation at its Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side. That made them already a dingy gray as the ship’s crane lowered them into the bay, four at a time.
Students made the reef balls with fiberglass molds developed by Georgia-based nonprofit the Reef Ball Foundation. They mixed the concrete, poured it in the molds and waited for them to set.
Underwater surveys and photos of last year’s reef balls show an area of bay bottom that would otherwise be barren sand is teeming with life. They are part of an 84-acre artificial reef that also contains bridge decking, tires and granite, according to the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative, a program of the state natural resources department.
Allison Sweeney and Bethany Baer, fourth-grade teachers at Elmer Woolfe Elementary School in Union Bridge, said the project came amidst lessons about bay ecology and water quality and about the history of Maryland’s seafood industry. The two tagged along Wednesday to snap photos to share with their students.
“In social studies we talk about the job of the bay,” Sweeney said. “We talked about how our natural resources affect what we can do in our society.”
The lessons stuck with Schober. She remembered seeing pictures of massive piles of oyster shells, from back when there were nearly 100 times more of the bivalves across the bay.
“Now there’s just barely any left,” she said.
But one of her favorite lessons was about the Chesapeake “Oyster Wars,” conflicts in the late 1800s and early 1900s between watermen and pirates who dredged for oysters illegally. That conflict, and the ongoing struggles of watermen on the bay, taught her the economic importance of oyster harvesting.
“You can’t say ‘don’t do it for a month,’ because some people make their money that way,” Schober said.
Retrieved from: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/environment/bs-md-reef-balls-20170621-story.html
Today I was impressed seeing photos at various tidal levels of the Reef Ball Project Stratford Pt. CT
It looks like it was a cold day as the group planted marsh grass that will add to the resilience and create a carbon sink. Thanks for the great work and I love sharing it on Ocean Week.
You can follow the Group at https://www.facebook.com/pg/StratfordPoint/videos/?ref=page_internal
You might want to talk to Professor Jennifer Mattei who’s project has shown great success. Or just listen to this video
Read the article from Sacred Harts University at