The Broward County Natural Resources Planning and Management Division recently created a new artificial reef offshore Fort
Lauderdale. The new artificial reef, the 92nd reef constructed by Broward County, was created using 900 tons of limestone boulders and is located approximately three-quarters of a mile off the north end of Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in 40 feet of water on sand bottom.
The reef is configured into 12 randomly positioned small patches between 15 and 20 feet across with a minimum spacing of 100 feet. For boaters and divers, the center of the artificial reef array is located at 26º 09.188′N, 80º 05.110′W.
Ken Banks, Broward County Marine Resources Section, explained, “The concept of distributing the reef material over a large area is intended to spread out diving and fishing pressure on the reef in order to conserve the biological resources, yet still provide good recreational opportunities. It is recommended that divers and fishers drift through the site instead of anchoring their boat. This will eliminate anchor damage to the organisms colonizing the reef.”
If funding can be secured in the future, this site will serve as a laboratory to investigate the interactions between reef and sand bottom biological communities, such as fish and plant life-cycle and ecological food chain dynamics. “This type of research is important in order to determine the best locations for future artificial reef deployment without damaging the natural reef ecosystem,” Banks said.
Funding for this project came from the Florida Department of Transportation through a joint participation agreement with Broward County. These funds were left over from mitigation projects related to the re-construction of the 17th Street Causeway in Fort Lauderdale.
For more information about the artificial reef project, contact Kenneth Banks at 954-519-1207.