Thousand Reef Challenge Launched

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Mini-Reefs Clean Water

Ocean Habitat launched their “Thousand Reef Challenge” at Fish-Tale Marina last Friday, April 26, aiming to put 1,000 mini-reefs into SWFL waters. Their unique ‘mini-reef’ structure provides a home for marine life and filters water in polluted coastal waterways. Installed under docks, the Mini Reef supports hundreds of fish and crabs when fully developed and can filter on average 30,000 gallons of water a day per unit.

“We strive to fulfill our mission of bringing coastal waters to life” said David Wolff, Ocean Habitats founder. “You look around the canals and it’s a biological desert everywhere, it’s amazing what’s growing on our units in these same canals.”

Ocean Habitat’s mini-reef box is 2’ wide by 3’ long and 2’ tall. A flotation box on top keeps it off the canal bottom.

Last Friday, they launched both the Thousand Reef Challenge and the One Reef Project to track the results. Fish-Tale Marina has purchased 40 of the mini-reefs and will install them in the coming weeks. The lightweight structures, meant to imitate a mangrove habitat, are composed of polypropylene, tubing and rope. They are installed under docks, where they are quickly populated by barnacles, oysters and the smallest of sea life, which then attract larger sea life. Fully populated, they bring sea life to canals and help clean the water.

The Town of Fort Myers Beach is funding a pilot project placing dozens of the mini-reefs in the canal between Egret and Ibis Streets. While addressing Town Council last fall, an Ocean Habitat representative explained that the reefs use a high density plastic as it will stand up to the harsh marine environment.

The mini-reefs cost $250 each and, because Ocean Habitats is a Florida non-profit, are tax deductible. The price includes installation.

Fish-Tale owner Al Durrett jumped at the chance to partner with Ocean Habitats for the launch of the Thousand Reef Challenge. “We couldn’t be more excited to participate in the ‘Thousand Reef Challenge.’ As a State of Florida Clean and Resilient Marina, along with having Fish-Tale Waterfront Dining designated as an Ocean Friendly Restaurant, this project demonstrates our ongoing commitment to protecting our waters,” he said.

Ocean Habitats is seeking sponsors to donate towards funding installation of 1,000 new units into Florida’s waters over the summer.

Wolff said, “The One Reef Project will track what we are doing – how much water is being filtered, how many units are going in and how many fish are being produced,” he said.

Florida Gulf Coast University marine and ecological studies associate professor James Douglass attended the launch and said he was pleased to see recognition that sea life – oysters, barnacles, mussels – can help clean the water if provided a place to grow.

The mini-reefs can help return some natural function to sea-walled shorelines, Douglass explained. “In addition to filtering water and cutting down on algae blooms, they provide a habitat for small organisms like shrimp, crab and the small fish that are the base of the food chain for larger fish that we all love to catch and eat.”

Anyone wishing to participate in the Thousand Reef Challenge and purchase a mini-reef, can find ordering information at oceanhabitatsinc.com.