SOUTH PADRE ISLAND – We take a look at the proposed artificial reef miles north of South Padre Island.
According to its creators, Friends of RGV Reef, they plan to make an industrial scale artificial nursery reef, something that has never been seen on Texas coasts.
It’s a project that started with a simple idea, to attract more fish.
Gary Glick, President Friends of RGV Reef tells News Center 23 that this project began almost 3 years ago. He states, “My brother and I just thought that we needed a little bit more fishing area in state waters. Everything that we wanted to do to improve fishing was going to be a felony unless we got permits.”
Through collaborations, permits, and donations the artificial reef is slowly becoming one of the largest artificial nursery reefs. They are looking for the highly sought after red snapper, a fish commonly associated with reefs. It’s a type of fish found in the Gulf of Mexico, but in Texas Waters they not be as common due to how flat the sea floor can be. Visit your local restaurant and you will find red snapper selling for 40 to 50 dollars a pound.
“The bottom of the gulf is just as flat as it can be,” says Glick. “What we want to do is put down small rocks that these little fish can dodge around.”
Their hope is that those small fish have a chance to grow and survive to adulthood, thus increasing their population.
Friends of RGV Reef has already sunk boats and debris. The reef is located about 14 miles north of the South Padre Island Jetties. We had a special opportunity to witness the first phases.
As the reef project got larger, so did the number of partners. As of the first phase, an estimated 400,000 thousand dollars have been invested in this project. From what we’ve seen, partners help in any way they can… such as donating debris or even helping with research.
UTRGV Environmental Marine Sciences Assistant Professor Dr. Richard Kline tells us, “We’ve had other reefs on the Texas coast, but we have never had a chance to engineer and put down things in an experimental design as we have with this one, for the benefit of juvenile reef fish.”
In this expedition in late June, they sink over 50 concrete pyramids. Each is about 10 feet tall and each goes down according to mapped out location. Dr. Kline tells us this is the largest artificial reef located on the Texas Coast at 1.2 square miles.
Kline believes this project will benefit research on reefs of this magnitude. He says, “We’re testing different hypotheses for what type of material to put out to give us more fish for the amount of material put out.”
Since our trip earlier this year, Friends of RGV reef has placed over 200 tons of debris into Texas waters.
“What we want is for little boys and girls to be able to catch. For them to be able to catch there has to be a lot of fish,” says Glick.