Artificial Reefs

The primary program objectives are to provide financial and technical assistance to coastal local governments, nonprofit corporations, and state universities to develop artificial reefs and to monitor and evaluate these reefs.

 

Under the program, reefs have been constructed with one or more of the following intended objectives: 1) enhance private recreational and charter fishing and diving opportunities; 2) provide a socio-economic benefit to local coastal communities; 3) increase reef fish habitat; 4) reduce user conflicts; 5) facilitate reef related research; and, 6) while accomplishing objectives 1-5, do no harm to fishery resources, Essential Fish Habitat (EFH), or human health.

 

Other reef building objectives undertaken in Florida but outside this agency include mitigation or restoration reefs to replace hard bottom habitat lost through such activities as beach re-nourishment, repair of reef system damage caused by vessel groundings, provide substrate for the regeneration of oyster reefs and protection of re-planted vegetated shorelines vulnerable to erosion from wave activity.

 

Florida has one of the most active artificial reef programs among the 14 Gulf and Atlantic states involved in this activity. The Florida artificial reef program is the only state program besides Maryland that is not exclusively run at a state agency level where the state holds all the reef area permits. Because of the extent of coastline and statewide involvement in reef activities, the FWC program continues as a cooperative partnership started 25 years ago with local coastal county governments.

 

List of Artificial Reefs

Reef Map (PDF)

Reef Guide (PDF)

Pinellas County Utilities' Reef Guide

Individual Reef Locations

North to South

Tarpon Springs Reef
No maintained buoy
Depth 26-28 feet   N 28º - 08.250'   W 82º - 55.850'

We have limited our construction to avoid harming this reef's large established live bottom, placing all the reef material south of the center position. The natural bottom supports a healthy population of sea bass, grunts, and snapper.

Dunedin Reef   
No maintained buoy
Depth 25-30 feet   N 28º - 03.200'   W 82º - 54.550'

You will find high profile structures at the north end and pyramids 1,000 feet south of the center of this reef. Photographers armed with zoom lenses and extension tubes enjoy photographing this reef.

 Veteran's Reef    
Yellow buoy marked with an American flag
Depth 43-47 feet   N 28º - 03.000'   W 83º - 00.750'

Three large steel-hulled barges (each over 100 feet long), 300 tons of native Florida limestone, and prefabricated fish-attracting devices (FADs) mark this reef. You will find the essential materials around the center buoy in a 600-foot north/south by 250-foot east/west rectangle. Many species have already made this reef their home. In 2001, the reef construction crew placed two plaques on one of the pyramid structures. These plaques, found approximately 50 feet from the center buoy, commemorate all veterans.

Clearwater  Reef 
No maintained buoy
Depth 27-29 feet   N 28º - 00.950'   W 82º - 53.700'

Although construction on the first County reef began in the early sixties, the reef crew has made many additions over the last several years. To cover all these structures, start at the center of the reef, use your depth recorder, and head north, south, east, or west. The middle of the reef features a submerged barge.

Pinellas #3 Reef   
No maintained buoy
Depth 130 feet   N 27º - 53.000'   W 83º - 35.000'

Pinellas County Utilities plans to build a new reef site approximately 39 miles West of Clearwater Pass in 130 feet of water. Artificial reef construction permits specify that reefs must not exceed half the water's depth. The depth of this water allows us to sink larger vessels and decommissioned military ships.

Rube Allyn Reef   
Yellow buoy
Depth 50 feet   N 27º - 55.924'   W 83º - 01.403'

This reef has many tall pyramid structures. In 1995, the reef crew placed concrete material from the demolition of the old Clearwater Pass Bridge. This reef provides an excellent place to look for kingfish. To find our "Twin Peaks", go to N 27º - 55.220'/W 083º - 01.500'. This will place you on a pyramid structure measuring about 80 feet long and 50 feet wide. The peaks of the pyramids are 18-20 feet high and the structure has a diameter of 95 feet. The newest addition to this reef site, a low level reef structure 150 feet long and 85 feet wide, lies 50 feet northwest of the center buoy. This addition consists of 600 tons of concrete bridge piling cutoffs, culvert, and light poles. A 35-foot barge previously used in the early days of the County's reef program rests atop this new addition.

Pinellas #2 Reef  
Yellow buoy
Depth 80 feet   N 27º - 52.500'   W 83º - 11.400'

This deep-water site is home to the USCG Cutter Blackthorn, the tug Sheridan, and a steel barge. The tug Sheridan remains intact, and many divers consider this 180-foot steel tug West Central Florida's best wreck dive. Its diverse population of migratory and bottom dwelling fish attracts both divers and fishermen. Grouper, snapper, amberjack, crevelle jack, Spanish mackerel, triggerfish, barracuda, and an occasional shark are often found here.

Indian Shores Reef   
Yellow buoy
Depth 44-46 feet   N 27º - 51.691'   W 083º - 01.817'

Two World War II Navy Landing Ships (LSMs) and a salt hopper barge mark this reef. The U.S. Navy Explosives Ordnance Disposal Team from Cecil Field Naval Air Station in Jacksonville filled the 200-foot plus LSMs with scrap cable and sunk it with explosives. One LSM can be found on the southern end of the reef, the second LSM near the center of the reef. A more recent addition, placed in 1984, is a 240-foot salt hopper barge. It rests in an inverted position southwest of the reef's north end.

 Madeira Beach Reef   
No maintained buoy
Depth 30-33 feet   N 27º - 46.300'   W 082º - 54.900'

This reef has widely scattered material that reaches 1-2 feet high, along with two high profile structures on the northwest corner.

Treasure Island Reef   
No maintained buoy
Depth 29-33 feet   N 27º - 44.500'   W 082º - 52.850'

Anglers and divers will find high profile pyramid structures south of the reef's center. To locate more high profile structures, head north from the center of the reef, use your recorder, and head due east or west. You will find two pyramid structures to the west and three to the east. Commonly sighted fish include large grouper, snapper, hogfish, snook, and big bull redfish.

Treasure Island II Reef   
No maintained buoy
Depth 100 feet   N 27º - 41.695'   W 083º - 17.485'

Established January 2004, this reef site is built from various marine vessels, concrete culverts and power light poles. The highlight of this reef site to date is an 85 foot steel hull shrimp vessel, which was sunk in December 2004.

South County Reef   
Yellow buoy
Depth 45 feet   N 27º - 43.375'   W 082º - 58.500'

Pinellas County Utilities built this reef site in response to public requests for a reef at the south end of the County. You will find this reef approximately one mile north of the wreck "Betty Rose". It lies ten miles from the John's Pass entrance marker and 11.5 miles from the Pass-a-Grille channel.

Constructed in October 2001, about 700 tons of concrete culvert, junction boxes, light poles, and slabs make up this reef. The main pile reaches 90 feet long east/west, 35 feet wide north/south, and sixteen feet high. Twenty-five feet south and 75 feet north of the main pile, the reef crew placed ten piles of concrete as part of a monitoring survey program to study reef construction techniques and effectiveness. The reef also boasts the 100-year old Tug "Orange". This tug is 80 ft. in length and was sunk in 42 ft. of water on April 8, 2003. This reef attracts massive schools of baitfish, and, during the migrating season, lots of Spanish and king mackerel, bonita, and jacks. Several goliath grouper, black seabass, and a friendly six-foot long nurse shark inhabit this reef.


St. Pete Beach Reef   
No maintained buoy
Depth 34-6 feet   N 27º - 40.600'   W 082º - 51.750'

Some anglers consider this reef one of the best fishing spots in lower Pinellas County. In 1976, a large part of the Old Corey Causeway became the foundation of this reef. In 1984, a 200-foot barge joined it 50 feet east of the reef's center. In 1995, ten U.S. Army tanks completed this reef's profile.



General Information:
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Pinellas County Utilities has thirteen artificial reef sites, 3 to 38 miles offshore, in the Gulf of Mexico. Each reef's individual design has different sized openings for different sized fish. These openings attract bottom dwellers like grouper, snapper, and grunt. The height of the structures attracts migratory species like mackerel, amberjack, cobia, barracuda, and baitfish. The reef sites can have a base diameter of up to 100 feet and reach up to half the water's depth.

Approximately two weeks after placing the reef material on the ocean floor, barnacles and algae form on the reef. Soon, sea urchins and small fish come to feed on the new reef. Within the year (typically between six and nine months), the reef begins to support coral growth. After a year of coral growth, several types of invertebrates, such as sea squirts, inhabit the reef.

The reef crew has placed mooring buoys on several reef sites for boats less than 30 feet. Boaters can directly tie on to a line attached to these buoys. These buoys eliminate the danger of an anchor becoming entangled in a reef and provide an easier way to moor your vessel. In addition, any reef site with an active construction permit will have a yellow center buoy.


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For more information on Florida's Artificial Reef Program, please contact:

Jon Dodrill, Environmental Administrator

Division of Marine Fisheries Management - Artificial Reef Program

Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

620 South Meridian Street, Box 4B2

Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600

phone: (850) 922-4340 x207

fax: (850) 922-0463

e-mail: Jon.Dodrill@myfwc.com


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