PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — As part of the Bay County Artificial Reef Program, more than 30 of the massive man-made reefs were dropped into the Gulf Monday morning.
Scott Jackson, a Sea Grant extension agent for Bay County, said in the next three to five years, the artificial reefs being dropped in the Gulf will grow into a bustling home for marine life.
“They’ll be used because just a day or two we’ll start to see some of the baitfish start to arrive, some of the migratory species come through, like a barracuda or something like that, and then subsequently we should see prized reef fish,” Jackson said.
The goal of the artificial reefs is to help the Gulf recover after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.
“I’m proud of how we can respond and recover from those types of things and these reefs will help ensure that response to continue now so I’m excited about that,” Jackson said.
The man-made reefs will not only impact the environment and the local economy, they will also affect the dive community.
“Number one, people just like to even sightsee to see the fish life that’s on there, and number two, spearfishermen like to harvest fish off of those reefs so it’s great for divers,” said Brian Robinson, general manager of Diver’s Den.
Robinson said the artificial reefs will attract more divers to visit Panama City Beach.
“When they come down and spend half the day with us diving, they go to the rest of the town on the beach and patron other businesses that day and they weeks that they’re here,” Robinson said.
This is phase two of the Bay County Artificial Reef Program. When complete, the goal is to deploy more than 200 man-made reefs into the Gulf.