CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) – A new addition to an artificial reef built from a retired barge found its way to the seabed off the coast of Edisto Island on Tuesday.
The retired 250-foot barge included pieces of a deconstructed water tower, shipping containers, and a shark sculpture. The State Department of Natural Resources says it expects marine life to colonize the reef and fish to begin educating in the area within six months.
Robert Martore, head of the artificial reef program at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, says the diversity of structures on the reef will allow several different species to inhabit the area.
“The variety of structures will provide habitat for a wide range of species,” Martore said. low-relief habitat that provides refuge for small species and juveniles.
The Department of Natural Resources claims that artificial reefs play a similar role to coral reefs in the ocean, and that artificial structures are usually placed in areas of the seabed with little natural relief. artificial reefs enhance habitat and spawning grounds for marine life and attract divers and anglers to the area.
In addition to expanding offshore fish habitats, officials say artificial reef projects allow the recycling of materials that would otherwise end up in landfills.
The ministry said it was partnering with Mount Pleasant Waterworks on the project, as the utility donated the recently retired Old Village water tower. Officials say the converted structures go through a “rigorous cleaning process” before being added to an artificial reef.
“Reallocating our Old Village water reservoir to an artificial reef allows us to fulfill our mission of protecting the environment,” said Mount Pleasant Waterworks General Manager Allan Clum. “We all have something at stake when it comes to water, and we are grateful for our partnership with SCDNR as we work together to protect our natural resources. “
The barge also contains 12 container boxes and a life-size concrete sculpture of a white shark designed by SCDNR biologists.
“We decided to get creative and create a photoshoot that divers would enjoy,” Martore said.
The Edisto 60 ′ reef is located approximately 10 nautical miles offshore and more than 20 structures have already been deployed in the area.
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