At present we have permits for 3 new inshore reefs which will be within 6 nautical miles of shore and located in approximately 8 to 15 feet of water. These reefs are designed for providing transitional habitat for juvenile fish as they move offshore as well as snorkeling & fishing. Additionally they will also attract benthic (bottom dwelling) flora & fauna, resident species like sea bass, mangrove snapper, juvenile grouper, and pelagic (free swimming) species such as Sea Trout, cobia, redfish and Spanish mackerel. As an example of juvenile behavior: Grouper fry grow up in the salt marsh then move offshore to deeper waters as they mature. Without transitional habitat they are venerable to the pelagic species looking for a meal.
On our coastline there is not a lot of protective habitat for the juveniles to hide in as they transition offshore. The reefs we intend to build will provide that protective habitat for them and many other species. We will be utilizing pallet sized REEF BALLS which cost $250.00 each with 42 to 47 balls per reef arranged in groups from 1 to 3. In addition we have permission from the Army Corps of Engineers to construct some test modules of our own design. All deployments will be monitored, notably by the Scubanauts, and data analyzed by the University of Florida. We hope to make this an ongoing project with many more reefs in the future. Contributions may be made to the Hernando Environmental Land Protectors (HELP) in any size donation. A reef module costs $250 each but every little bit helps, no gift is too small so look for donation containers at marinas and elsewhere. Your spare change can change the ecology for the better. If you wish to donate an entire ball we will put a dedication plaque on the module. You may wish to place a module down as a remembrance of a favorite person, living or dead. What a way to remember someone by going out to fish with them, except that now they are providing the habitat!
Three patch reefs with 135 reef balls were depolyed in November of 2017 in 8 to 12 feet of water. The recruitment on these reef's is nothing sort of amazing according to scientists from Fish & Wildlife and the University of Florida. These are mangrove snapper on Site B after 2 weeks and 6 months.
HELP’s address is:
Hernando Environmental Land Protectors
7404 Shoal Line Blvd.
Weeki Wachee FL 34607
HELP has put up the funds for 3 reef modules and will also be providing funds for monitoring in conjunction with the Scubanauts and the University of Florida.
At present we do not ahve an open permit but we are continuing to collect donations and build reef balls in anticipation of another permit which we have applied for.
The purpose is to not only inprove habitat, but to create a vested interest within the participants in the environment. As they get older thay can look back and say, "I helped build that!"
There was a kayak race on our new saltwater Kayak Trail that runs from Linda
Pederson park to Bayport to raise funds for this project. However due to inclimate weather, high winds, the funding fell sort of the goal. Therefore HELP will provide funding to get this the physical nursery built.
If Britany can leverage our donation it may be possible to guild a second nursery at another school in the county.
Again the purpose is to get youth involved and train them in not only growing the marsh grass, but in monitoring the deployments.
Our future depends on fostering an interest in the following generations to care for the ecology. This is what HELP is striving to do by involving youth in ecological projects.
HELP in investing funds recieved from SWAMPFEST to support projects according to our stated purpose.
For more information look at Brittany's projects Click Here
There is no recent "official" record of what we have off our coast. Without it we nave no way of telling what changes are happening over time. During some preliminary dives several Black Grouper were observed in our realtively shallow waters; this is a first and FWC was suprised they were here. Only time will tell if they stay or if tis was a one time happening.
Follow up assesments may be done by the Scubanauts, Univeristy Students and even the general public. For example: there has been a Goliath goourper reporting program for years to gather data on this species. Ordinary citizens can send in reports on sightings or catch and release events.