Underwater Adventure Awaits: New Artificial Reef Coming to Hollywood Beach

March 31, 2022

Those who experience the excitement of the underwater world, with its colorful fish and beautiful coral formations, know the thrill of seeing amazing marine life or discovering a unique formation. Divers to Hollywood Beach boast of the incredible biodiversity found just beyond the sandy shores. The word is out in the dive community on the 1000 Mermaids Artificial Reef Project that is heading to Hollywood Beach this Spring.

The Ocean Rescue Alliance (ORA), a Marine Conservation and Restoration Non-Profit Organization that specializes in eco-art artificial reef structures that vary by biological purpose. Some structures create fish habitats or enable the restoration of oysters, mangroves and corals. Some protect coastlines and others become dive destinations. The goal of the Alliance’s “1000 Mermaids Artificial Reef Project” is to create Unique Art Themed Reefs in South Florida, including off of Hollywood Beach. Their very first Reef Structure is scheduled for deployment in 40 feet of water in the Central Beach area. This first site will be accessible only by boat, however future near shore snorkel sites are planned for easier access by all.

ORA Artificial Reef Structures are made of eco-friendly materials that encourage natural Coral and benthic growth to create micro and macro habitats. Each structure weighs anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 pounds to ensure that they stay in place, even through a Hurricane. The ORA Team uses a large barge to set it in place where it is expected to stay for 50 years or more. Approximately $300,000 is already invested to construct the Artificial Reef Structure and install it in the Ocean, as well as to create and support Educational Programming, on-going Reef Restoration and new Research Initiatives.

Unlike most Artificial Reef Structures, The ORA’s Reefs range from high to low profile to mimic those found in the natural world. The Reef Structures include shelves and spaces that a variety of sizes and Species of Marine Life can use during the different stages of their life. The more artistic structures will also offer divers and snorkelers a destination to visit and explore. Each structure will also be “seeded” with coral fragments to help encourage coral growth.

In addition to diving, the Reef Project will be an opportunity for the Public to learn about the importance of Conservation and Restoration Efforts. Programs are planned to include: Research, Education, Citizen Science, Dive/Beach Clean-Ups, Monitoring and more. Eco-Tourism opportunities are also planned and may include visits to the Reef and the ability to “outplant” Corals at the site.

Prior to the Reef Structure being deployed off of Hollywood Beach, the Public will have an opportunity for an up close viewing. Visit the City’s Web-Site at: www.HollywoodFL.org for information on where to view the new structure. Once deployed, Reef Coordinates can be found on the Ocean Rescue Alliance’s Web-Site at: www.oceanrescuealliance.org.

Dive Hollywood’s Reefs

Did you know that….the Florida Reef Tract stretches from the Dry Tortugas all the way to the St. Lucie Inlet for nearly 360 linear miles making it the fifth largest Coral Reef Ecosystem in the World?

But what exactly are Coral Reef Ecosystems and why should you check them out?

Coral Reefs are large Underwater Ecosystems that have been formed over hundreds of years by Invertebrates called Coral Polyps! These Coral Polyps come in all shapes, colors and sizes but they join in colonies to form the Iconic Reefs you might recognize; they are living animals but when they pass away their exoskeletons form Stony Limestone support for the Coral formations which are how they grow over centuries!

They are often called the “Rainforests Of The Sea” because although they only occupy 1% of the Ocean Floor, they are a crucial habitat for about 25% of all Ocean Species! Coral Reefs are home to thousands of different Plants and Animal Species! To learn more about our Coral Reefs, Visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Informational Page At: www.noaa.gov.

The Florida Reef Tract is the only Coral Reef Ecosystem in the Continental United States and is divided into the Inner Reef, which is 20-30 feet deep, the Middle Reef, which is 40-60 feet deep and the Outer Reef, which is 50-100 feet deep! When diving in our Reefs, you can expect to see colorful Parrotfish, Angelfish, Barracuda, Nurse Sharks, Stingrays, Delicate Corals, Turtles and more!

However, Coral Reefs are Sensitive Ecosystems that are sadly being threatened by a variety of factors like: Climate Change, Coral Bleaching, Overfishing, Boat Anchoring, etc.

Visit NOAA's Coral Reef Ecosystem to learn more about the dangers that our Reefs are facing and what you can do to help!

One way that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is getting involved and protecting our Oceans and everything that lives in them is by administering a State-Wide Artificial Reef Program that provides Financial and Technical Assistance to Local Coastal Governments, Non-profit Corporations and State Universities to construct, monitor and assess the Artificial Reefs.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has an Interactive Map where you can view all of the Artificial Reefs along Hollywood’s Coast! Visit: https://myfwc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/View/index.html?appid=4675e1db32ac43a9a4308e757965d17d