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Palm Beach County Reefs

Posted by Lorea Thomson on Thursday, May 12th, 2022 at 2:24pm.

Palm Beach County reefs are part of the largest coral reef ecosystem in the continental United States! Just beyond South Florida’s white-sand beaches, are natural and artificial reefs that provide a multitude of diving, snorkeling, boating, and fishing opportunities for residents and visitors alike.

Running parallel to Palm Beach County’s coast lies forty-seven miles of natural coral reef formations. These formations were created thousands of years ago and are part of Florida’s Coral Reef that stretches 360 miles from the St. Lucie Inlet to the Dry Tortugas. For the past 40 years, Palm Beach County has created reef areas using various materials to give people additional areas for fishing, diving, and snorkeling and to protect natural reefs from overuse. These "artificial reefs" are most often made from limestone, concrete, and occasionally decommissioned ships that become beautiful marine habitats for algae, corals, and other marine life.

One such organization is the Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation of Jupiter. Back in 2017, Guy Harvey Magazine published an article about Andrew “Red” Harris, an inspirational 26-year-old from Jupiter, who was killed after he was hit by a boat as he tried to save his girlfriend from drifting away in a rip current. The heroic tragedy inspired his parents to start a foundation to build artificial reefs in their son’s name. Enhancing the marine environment made sense because he loved fishing, diving, and being on the water. Doing something good for the ocean would create a legacy in his name and maybe even help to soften their grief.

Over the past seven years, the Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation has raised and spent more than $2.5 million to build more than two miles of offshore reefs. That includes thirty-six deployments comprised of 6,250 tons of limestone boulders, 3004-ton “coral head” modules, 2803-ton “hollow boulders,” 4,0008-foot-long concrete culverts that weighed between 1 and 3 tons, and a 17-foot-tall replica of the Jupiter Lighthouse. 

Palm Beach County Environmental Resource Management also has deployed over forty-nine vessels, 110,000 tons of concrete, and 140,000 tons of limestone boulders creating artificial reefs.

Check out this site to see the locations of the reefs off Palm Beach County coastline.     

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