Grayton Beach, Fla. - Walton County's once barren sea bed is being transformed into an underwater oasis. A local organization is working to install artificial reefs along south Walton's coastline.
Boat loads of new artificial reefs are being deployed in Walton County's coastal waters. South Walton will soon have a total of 12 brand new near shore and off-shore reef sites, one of those sites is located right here in Grayton Beach.
"Any where you are along 30A, there is most likely going to be a reef that you can either swim or kayak out to," said Walt Hartley, South Walton Artificial Reef Association.
South Walton Artificial Reef Association or S.W.A.R.A. for short, has been installing reefs along south Walton's coast since 2013. The idea for S.W.A.R.A. was born out of concerns over the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Disaster.
"We are putting these reef modules out there and it's almost like creating little oasis in the desert. It's going to bring more fish in. It creates these protective shelters for smaller younger fish," said Hartley.
During the last deployment, reefs were placed at Miramar beach, Frangista Beach, Topsail, Fish Haven, and Ed Walline. Each reef site has about one hundred towers per location.
"These reefs are a win, win, win really. It's good for the environment. It's great for visitors and it's great for locals. this is an opportunity to go snorkeling or on the off-shore reefs, do some great fishing," said David Demarest, Visit South Walton.
In a bid to increase marine life, officials at Visit South Walton see the reef installations as another draw for visitors.
"This gives us another way to have visitors to come here, support our businesses, support the community and really enjoy themselves. This is something that didn't exist before for Walton County, so, it's a great new addition," said Demarest.
The next installation of reefs will take place next week, from Tuesday to Thursday, weather permitting. Three remaining snorkeling reefs will be deployed by the end of summer. For more information on where you can find the locations and get a diving permit, www.WaltonReefs.org
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