PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Eastern Shipbuilding partnered with local schools to give students the chance to gain experience in the field of welding.

Chipola College, Haney Technical College, Wewahitchka, Port St. Joe, and Wakulla High Schools built their own artificial reefs.

On Thursday, they were brought to Captain Anderson’s Marina.

“It’s been a really neat project because we’re creating artificial reefs and our area in the Gulf is really in need of some new reefs,” Captain B.J. Burkett said. “It’s been a few years since we’ve had a large number of reefs put out.”

Each reef had to meet qualifications for the reefs to be approved.

“Certain types of metal, certain sizes, there’s also got to be a certain size diameter hole so some of the mammals can freely swim in and out,” Burkett said.

Besides county guidelines, students were allowed to be as creative as they wanted.

“We didn’t give them a lot of guidelines on how to build it because they may come up with the new greatest reefs that the species really love,” Burkett said.

The reefs range from 5,000 pounds to 15,000 pounds. The heaviest is the work of Port St. Joe and Wewa.

“These are built pretty heavy-duty. So these will be there for many, many years. Their weight really helps out. The heavier they are, the longer they can last.” Burkett stated.

In mid-April, they will be taken 18-30 miles offshore. Two charter boats from Captain Anderson’s will sink them over 100 feet deep.

“They will load them on the barge and then one of the boats will drag the barge offshore and then we will look to get them off the barge and get them deployed into designated areas that were permitted to be in,” Burkett said.

If you’d like to see the artificial reefs in person, they’ll be at Captain Anderson’s Marina for the next two weeks.