OCEAN CITY — Ocean City’s growing artificial reef system continues to gain momentum with new material dropped offshore last weekend.
The Ocean City Reef Foundation is amidst one of its most prolific times in recent memory with another deposit of concrete pipes and specially designed concrete reef blocks sunk off the coast last weekend. For about 16 years, the Ocean City Reef Foundation has been steadily expanding the artificial reef system off the coast with eight sites ranging from as close to shore as one mile to as far away as 20 miles.
The latest batch of over 150 reef building blocks went down over the Jimmy Jackson Memorial Reef about 10 miles off the coast last Sunday.
Another relatively new site is the “Ake Reef” about five miles off the coast just southeast of the Inlet. The Ake Reef, named for the late Doug Ake who passed away this spring, got its most significant addition over the winter when a 50-foot retired Baltimore water taxi was sunk over the site. Since then, the Ake Reef, like the Jackson Reef, has been the beneficiary of tons of material.
“We slipped out on Sunday with 156 blocks to drop on Jimmy’s Reef,” said the Reef Foundation’s Captain Monty Hawkins of the Morning Star this week. “That reef and Ake’s Reef are our main focus right now. The guys have gotten out with a barge load of concrete pipes twice in the last three weeks.”
During the last 16 years, the Ocean City Reef Foundation has submerged tons of material, from old boats to retired military equipment to discarded construction materials, to create a vast artificial reef network off the coast. The artificial reefs have enhanced habitat for fish and other sea creatures, which has, in turn, improved offshore fishing for recreational anglers and created new opportunities for diving enthusiasts.
However, everything the Ocean City Reef Foundation has accomplished has been done with private donations and fundraising. When Maryland terminated its reef program in 1997, the town of Ocean City assumed responsibility for the permits needed for reef construction with the caveat no public funds would be used.
To that end, the foundation will hold its annual fundraising dinner at Hall’s Restaurant on May 15 from 5-7 p.m. The event features an all-you-can-eat Italian dinner, sponsored by Hall’s, along with ham and beef carving stations provided by Anthony’s and will also include silent, live and Chinese auctions. For more information, call 410-208-0064.