‘We’ve made an entire ecosystem:’ Artificial reef near South Padre Island growing

7 months 4 days 2 hours ago Tuesday, September 19 2023 Sep 19, 2023 September 19, 2023 10:44 PM September 19, 2023 in News - Local

Over the last several years, the floor of the Gulf of Mexico has transformed with the addition of concrete, decommissioned ships.

It’s a place for fish and other marine species to live and breed in at the RGV Reef. The artificial reef off the coast of South Padre Island has grown to 1,650 acres, slightly bigger than the size of the city.

On Tuesday, the RGV Reef received a buoy thanks to a donor. The buoy will mark a spot for fishermen to moor their boats as the fish population continues growing.

An exact population of the marine life at the reef is now being measured.

"We spent hundreds and hundreds of hours scanning the entire reef to really quantify the fish,” UTRGV professor Richard Kline said. “We started off with an area that was barren sand and mud… and now we have fish on every structure that we put down. We've made an entire ecosystem. If this was on land, it would have been a giant forest that we had made."

Friends of RGV Reef Director Curtis Hayungs says they have at least 12,000 more concrete ties and two more decommissioned ships to be sunk into the water and added to the reef.

“We are in desperate need of funding for deployment,” Hayungs said. “It costs money to get this material on the boat and deploy it. Everything else we got donated."

Hayungs says the end goal is to keep expanding the reef and the habitat that comes with it.

Watch the video above for the full story. 

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