The Hernando County Port Authority in cooperation with the Aquatics Services Department deployed more reef balls off the shore of Hernando Beach last Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017.
The reef locations are only seven miles offshore, in fairly clear water. Due to the close proximity to shore, and the Weeki Wachee and Hernando Beach boat ramps, the reefs are anticipated to provide an immediate benefit to anglers, as well as recreational and educational benefits to divers and students.
These benefits are also expected to result in economic benefits for the county. The cost of the project is partially paid for by money obtained from the 2010 British Petroleum (BP) oil spill claim.
In addition to the barge transporting the reef balls, two other boats piloted by Port Authority Chairman Frank Santo and Aquatic Services Director Keith Kolasa carried members of the Port Authority, County Commission, Media and other team members essential to the project. Drone footage was donated by Jay and Diane Rowden of the Small Business Promotion Network.
Saturday’s phase of the reef ball project is one of several artificial reef deployments off the Nature Coast.
The next phase planned will be the deployment of reef balls bearing permanent commemorative plaques. With the purchase of a plaque from the Hernando Environmental Land Protectors, an individual sponsors the reef ball.
In early December, the sponsored reef balls will be deployed, and each sponsor will receive the location coordinates in order to visit their reef in the future.
The sponsored reefs will also provide educational opportunities, as well as great fishing spots. All deployments will be monitored by youth citizen scientists from Scubanauts International and data analyzed by the students of the University of Florida, and other research institutions.
For information on sponsored reefs, contact Frank Santo 352-200-0493 / FASanto@tampabay.rr.com