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Artificial reefs near Port O'Connor to attract marine life

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PORT O'CONNOR, Texas (AP) - Crews working six miles off the Texas coast have placed 700 concrete pyramids on the Gulf floor to form two separate artificial reefs that officials say will enhance the marine habitat and lure anglers and divers.

Dale Shively, who leads the artificial reef program for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, says the last of the pyramids was put in place Saturday off Port O'Connor, an unincorporated community at the northern tip of Matagorda Island.

The two adjacent reefs consist of 700 concrete pyramids that have been placed in waters 66-70 feet deep. The 2,500-pound pyramids have holes large enough for fish to swim through, with limestone embedded outside to provide marine life such as worms and other invertebrates with a hard substrate to burrow into. The structures also have an opening at the top large enough to allow any sea turtles to escape if they wander in. The structures are now placed within a 381-acre reef site, the second largest site ever permitted in Texas waters.

“These new artificial reefs have all the features needed to attract a variety of marine species,” said Shively, “The process of attracting sea life happens fairly quickly, and we expect that within six months, the reef will become quality marine habitat. We’re very grateful to the partners who have made this possible.”

Artificial reefs not only enhance fishery resources, but also fishing and diving opportunities off the Texas coast. Hundreds of thousands of anglers and divers travel offshore each year for the recreational opportunities the reefs create.

An interesting feature of the new reef site is that two decommissioned petroleum platforms are within its 381-acre footprint, making them ideal candidates for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Rigs-to-Reefs program. This program re-purposes old oil rigs, creating marine habitat as well as saving significant dollars from the cost to remove them. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials are currently working with the Texas General Land Office on plans to convert the two platforms into reefs in the future, which will further enhance the site.
   
The nonprofit Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation helped secure funding for the project.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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