Friday, October 30, 2020

Letter to the Editor: Ocean Habitats Artificial Reefs

To the Members of Marco Island Waterways Advisory Committee,

It has now been a year since I last wrote in regard to the “Ocean Habitats” artificial reefs designed by David Wolff that have been deployed on Perrine Court’s Canal including one at our dock. As I mentioned previously, we saw early on a marked increase not only in the number of the small “bait fish” but also in the diversity of the larger game fish; some of which we had not seen in almost 20 years here on the canal. It is truly a testament to the success of these artificial reefs that we continue to this day to enjoy further increases. Along with the myriads of bait fish, Mangrove Snapper, and small Sea Trout, we have now seen Snook again and Tarpon, for the first time, swimming at our dock as well.

Thanks to some underwater camera pictures it is obvious that there is a continuous robust growth of “filter feeders” on these habitats which can be expected to help “clean up” or filter the canal’s water as well as make a great environment to sustain the bait fish.

I have webcam footage during Hurricane Irma showing Perrine Canal nearly empty at one point and then surge to several feet higher than our seawall into the yard, and yet the artificial reef was still intact and apparently unharmed. This is an amazing degree of resilience considering the strength of Irma when it hit the island.

I know that Jim Timmerman had original proposed to install at least 100 habitats along Perrine Canal to facilitate a measurable improvement in water clarity and quality, although the number to date deployed is significantly short of 100, and this has made it more difficult to demonstrate unequivocally the efficacy of these artificial reefs in cleaning up Marco’s canals.

I, for one, would like to applaud the efforts of Jim Timmerman in establishing Marco as a testing site for these astonishing reefs and the City Council and Waterways Advisory Committee for allowing and facilitating this interesting and vital endeavor. I would also highly encourage the continuation and completion of the initial plan of deploying at least the 100habitats originally planned, for a statistically more empowered sample size.

I continue to believe that this is the best path available to cleaning up and revitalizing what we love most about this island paradise – it’s wonderful waterways.

Sincerely,

Peter Foster, MD

Marco Island

 

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