Special to SEGAZINE
The Coastal Resources Division (CRD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources recently deployed a donated barge as the latest addition to Artificial Reef SAV – located 6 nautical miles southeast of Tybee Island.
The 110-feet-long, 209 ton steel barge was donated by Myrick Marine Contracting Corporation of Savannah. Using funds provided by the Georgia Natural Resources Foundation, CRD contracted Savannah-based marine transportation company, Biblia, Inc. to prepare and tow the barge to the designated latitude/longitude coordinates. The barge was flooded with seawater sinking in 12 minutes to rest on the seafloor 45 feet below.
The barge will soon be colonized by barnacles, soft corals and sponges providing the basis of a food web that will attract saltwater gamefish such as grouper, sheepshead, black sea bass and king mackerel. Endangered sea turtles and other sea life also use these manmade reefs as foraging and resting habitat. CRD staff will monitor the site annually using side scan sonar and diver surveys to document the structural integrity of the barge, as well as the fish and invertebrate abundance and diversity.
The CRD offshore artificial reef project is made possible by fishing license funds, Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration, grants from organizations such as the Georgia Natural Resources Foundation, private donations, and partnerships with local organizations that are interested in enhancing offshore fishing and diving opportunities.
“Donated materials help us to stretch our limited funds for offshore artificial reef enhancement. Instead of having to use those funds to purchase suitable reef material, we use them to cover the costs of transportation and deployment. Thanks to Myrick Marine and the Georgia Natural Resources Foundation, saltwater anglers in the Savannah area have a new fishing destination,” commented Spud Woodward, director of CRD.
Coordinates for the new barge site at SAV Reef: 31° 54.672’ N / 80° 47.222’ W