OCEAN CITY — Ocean City’s growing artificial reef system gained another significant contribution last week with tons of new material prepared and deployed by members of a local Boy Scout troop.
The Ocean City Reef Foundation is in the midst of one of its most prolific times in recent memory with tons of material including thousands of concrete “oyster castle” reef blocks and other materials filling out relatively new reef sites just off the coast. For roughly the last 17 years, the 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 and to as far out as 20 miles.
In March, local Boy Scouts from Troop 225 deployed 144 oyster castle reef blocks on an artificial reef site now appropriately known as the Eagle Scout Reef. The reef is being developed as part of an Eagle Scout project for local resident Patrick Miller.
Last weekend, a group of local scouts went out to the site on the “Morning Star” with Captain Monty Hawkins and delivered their latest contribution to the Eagle Scout Reef, which is located about seven miles off the coast in water around 70 feet deep.
Last weekend’s trip was the third deployment for the local scout troop this year. According to Hawkins, at over 10 tons of concrete assembled into reef units, the Eagle Scout Reef is growing nicely. For the last couple of years, much of the Reef Foundation’s efforts have focused on a handful of new reef sites fairly close to shore. The Jimmy Jackson Memorial Reef, about 10 miles off the coast, has been in the making for about three years.
Another relatively new site is the Ake Reef about five miles southeast of the Inlet named for the late Doug Ake who passed away last year. The Ake Reef began with the sinking of a retired 50-foot Baltimore water taxi a little over a year ago and has been the recipient of tons of material since. The newest site, Lindsey Power’s Isle of Wight Reef, was started late last year. The Isle of Wight Reef began with four stainless steel rail cars and a barge-load of concrete pipes and has also been the recipient of hundreds or oyster castle reef blocks since along with other material.
During the last 16 years-plus, the Ocean City Reef Foundation has submerged tons of material from old boats to retired military equipment and discarded construction materials to create a vast artificial reef network off the coast of the resort. 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. The hope is that a fully encrusted and developed artificial reef system will someday be teeming with many species that have dropped off in recent years.