30A Seafood Throwdown to benefit fisheries: Organizers want to build artificial reefs

Published: Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 10:40 AM.

McAlexander said Destin has a pass with artificial reefs that Destinites enjoy, but South Walton does not.

"Ninety-five percent of our water is barren sand floor. I thought it would be great if we helped build reefs close enough to shore so all people could access it and give people an opportunity to experience it," he said.

McAlexander explained that the artificial reefs, constructed of concrete and Florida limestone, simulate coral reefs. Fish and sea turtles congregate around them, providing natural habitat.

The reef McAlexander envisions will be located less than a mile off shore for easy access by kayaking or paddling for snorkeling and diving, and has an 8-foot base and is 8-feet tall.

McAlexander has enjoyed snorkeling and diving since age 14 at places from Hawaii to the Caribbean. In the 13 years he has lived in South Walton, he usually goes to the St. Joe Bay area to enjoy his sport, even though he said Escambia County has had snorkel reefs for years.

"With our crystal clear water, it will be unique to have a place to do that closer," he said.

The project is not cheap with a projected cost of $100,000 for a snorkel reef. A near shore reef would cost several hundred thousands.

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