|FORT PIERCE · Fish, shrimp and other Indian River Lagoon
creatures will get more places to hide and eat, thanks to a new
artificial reef project implemented by the St. Lucie County Mosquito
Reef balls -- the same hole-pocked,
concrete domes that Martin County school children sank in Jensen
Beach waters last year -- will be added to the restored marshy area
known as Bear Point Mitigation Bank.
manmade reefs are part of a state-mandated study that will document
the movement of fish throughout the waters of Bear Point, which also
is managed to control the mosquito population.
practical study because we know the marine life is already using
it," said Jim David, director of mosquito control.
County is working with scientists at Harbor Branch Oceanographic
Institution to monitor fish movements with sensors and
After sinking 18 reef balls next week -- in six
locations within the marsh -- the scientists will be able to use the
sensors to track fish swimming throughout the area.
balls will be prefabricated, and the cost is $8,200 for the reefs
and $18,000 for the monitoring work.
The reefs will be in the
mosquito impoundment area for at least five years, he
David said the district also is working with the
Smithsonian Institution to monitor the shrimp population in the
impoundment marshes, which have culverts connecting the marsh to the
"They're already surprised to see the shrimp moving
into the impoundment so quickly," he said. "Prior to installation of
the culverts, there was no oxygen or shrimp. After installing the
culvert, we had shrimp a couple inches long."
study costs $6,000.
In a related issue, St. Lucie County
Erosion District Manager Richard Bouchard said an artificial reef
about 1,000 feet offshore in the Atlantic Ocean has been
The five-acre reef -- which cost $2.79 million
split between the county, state and federal agencies -- was created
to offset negative impacts of the South Beach renourishment project
that started in 1999, he said.
Made of lime rock boulders,
the reef is designed to replicate the natural "hard bottom" habitat
found offshore in St. Lucie County.
Bouchard said the county
will monitor the new reef, which is marked with buoys, for the next
few years to ensure its stability and longevity.
Wentley can be reached at suzanne.wentley @scripps.com.