Grayton Beach gets an Artificial Reef!
Grayton Beach gets an Artificial Reef! Yay! SWARA (South Walton Artificial Reef Association) has succeeded after many years of hard work to get Artificial Reefs installed 400 feet off of the Grayton Beach State Park. The dredging boat brought the Reefs in on Friday am from Mobile, AL. and spent the better part of the day, assembling, then installing each pylon one by one. The units form the shape of a turtle. These reefs are expected to attract a huge variety of sea life and allow for excellent diving, snorkeling and of course… Klear Kanooing! See the video.
To Protect, conserve and enhance marine fisheries
That was the driving force for Andy McAlexander when he started the South Walton Artificial Reef Association close to two years ago.
“The idea came to me to create a system of near shore reefs that are accessible to kayak, paddle board and just free swimming from here,” said McAlexander. “And we are fortunate enough that we have been able to receive a ton of support from our local community that has propelled us in the last two years.”
But it has been a journey to get to where they are today.
Funding was the number one obstacle for the organization.
The Coastal Conservation Association was the first group to help, and from there that act caused a domino effect.
“Which gave our county commission and local TDC the confidence to invest in what we were doing and begin to open their eyes to the future of what this program can bring to our county,” said VP of SWARA, Jim Richard.
“Alys Beach Foundation, The Coastal Conservation Association, Stinky’s Fish Camp, and the Tourist Development Council, of course the Howard Group played a major role, and just recently, the St. Joe’s Foundation,” said McAlexander.
Each structure costs between $3,000 to $5,000.
But the funding doesn’t stop once the artificial reefs are built and placed into the Gulf at Grayton Beach.
McAlexander says it will take annual support and constant belief to increase the economic basis of the entire community.
“There are four snorkel reefs, they are on second sand bar, and they are equally spaced through out the county about five to six miles apart. Starting at Grayton Beach State Park. Then we have nine fish dive reefs that are in 55 to 60 feet of water, those are spaced about two to three miles apart all at major public accesses,” said McAlexander.
SWARA Hopes to deploy the first artificial reef sometime this fall or winter.
“By creating something where people can access it readily from our beaches and they will see what is down there, they will see coral, they will see fish, as oppose to just white sand,” said McAlexander.
“A living habitat for small fish and it will create a much larger ecosystem right off of our beaches that are pretty much barren,” said Richard.
McAlexander says the strong support from the community will keep this project going for generations to come.
“When you see what is out there, what we are creating and what we are bringing to the community, I think it is a win for everyone,” stated McAlexander.
To learn more about SWARA you can visit their website, and Facebook page.
If you’d like to help support this noble cause, it’s not too late, SWARA needs substantial financial support.