East Coast Current

Volusia Builds First Reef Trail in Northeast Florida

Mimi Mckee Blog Leave a Comment

The coastal communities of Volusia County encourage residents and visitors to get outside and explore. The county has a fast-growing network of multi-user trails for walk/jog, hiking and biking. Volusia’s latest trail addition is on the ocean floor. The reef trail, a 170-foot long line of large clean concrete structures, sits on the bottom of sea and is up to 10-to-15 feet high.

The unique trail was added at reef site 12, where the Lady Philomena, a 150-foot steel vessel and the tug Everglades was sunk earlier this summer. Coordinates for the approximate center of the trail between the wrecks are 29 11.582 N, 80 46.154 W. It is the first known reef/shipwreck trail in northeast Florida. Volusia’s Coastal Division expects the site to become a very popular fishing and dive location.

Joe Nolin, Volusia County Coastal Project Manager, presented the idea to add the trail between the ships. As an avid diver himself, he realized the addition of a trail would become a “bucket-list SCUBA diving destination.” The trail is not accessible to most free-divers as it is too deep at 80 feet. The trail is intended for SCUBA divers.

Due to poor sea conditions and limited visibility underwater photos have not been published of the trail. Pictured above are the materials that have been deployed at the site.

Since 1970, the objective of the county’s Artificial Reef Program is to provide nearby artificial reefs to offset the increasing pressure on the local natural reefs. Now, after more than 30 years, it is apparent that the county’s federal permitted artificial reef sites are providing the anticipated relief for the natural reefs located farther offshore.

To date, more than 60 artificial reef sites have been constructed in Volusia County. Construction materials include the remains of ships, barges, concrete culverts, airplanes, intracoastal waterway bridges, FDOT concrete roadway construction barriers, concrete telephone poles and other large pieces of concrete rubble.

Artificial reefs enhance and renourish marine habitats for the enjoyment of fishers and divers by creating surface areas on the ocean floor where encrusting organisms attach and grow into a food source that attracts fish. Just two weeks after the Lady Philomena was sunk, a goliath grouper was spotted making a home in the ship’s hold.

Future plans include 10 deployments to add more materials to the offshore reef sites. The county is averaging 400 tons of concrete per load. Adding material will reinvigorate the sites and surrounding habitats.

To view a map of the reef sites and coordinates along with more information about the artificial reef program, visit: Volusia.org.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *