Did you know there were coral reefs off of Fort Myers Beach in Southwest Florida? I’ll bet you didn’t. Maybe you did but you didn’t know there are a lot of them out there. Funny thing is that there did not used to be. Sure centuries ago maybe, but all the natural reefs were destroyed over time. So what exactly am I talking about now? Artificial Reefs! That’s right, Lee County in Florida has been working with surrounding counties to rectify the age old problem with it’s fisheries. Of course it’s not just for the fishermen but we’ll get into that.
An artificial reef is a reef put in place in the here and now. Usually they consist of old concrete objects like pylons, junction boxes, bridges and old culverts. Thought it takes years for the reefs to truly form it is well worth it. These artificial reefs can be just as beautiful as the natural ones and they create new habitat for endangered wildlife that requires a reef to live in. The concept of an artificial reef is literally thousands of years old, but today the point of them is much different than back in those days. Sometimes artificial reefs were put in by accident, other times they were put in to break up approaching enemy ships. Now we use them to preserve fisheries and nature as it should be.
What Does This Do For Us?
Well those of us lucky enough to live here in Lee County, FL get to see these reefs up close. Whether we fish in them or just go diving to check out the marine life calling it home, it is loads of fun and adventure. If you’re ever visiting Southwest Florida it’s something I would recommend doing with your time here. I’ve seen Niagara Falls up close and I’d say that seeing the reefs up close is just as awe inspiring as that was in certain ways. It’s a thing of beauty that you just can’t ignore.
These reefs are an experience for certain and it’s an experience we’d like to endure for future generations. It may seem crazy to think that certain species of fish could go extinct without these reefs but it’s a possibility, and it’s one to avoid for certain. Every ecosystem has a balance it needs to keep to stay healthy and removing just one small factor in an ecosystem could destroy the whole thing over time. Likewise adding a new factor can wreck an ecosystem as well. Presently we have a problem with the Lionfish.
This particularly species is native to the Pacific Ocean and is very invasive to our Gulf waters. The biggest threat it poses is it’s population growth here. It has no natural predators, so their numbers are growing like a wildfire in dry brush. They’re creating such a problem that Lee County has created a Lionfish Fest that involves fishing specifically for the invasive species. This will take place May 2nd through May 4th and should be a lot of entertaining fun as well. It’s even going to end in a cook-off to see who can fry up the best Lionfish!
Other Problems For Lee County Reefs
Of course there are other issues like pollution that have done damage to our reefs. The BP Oil Spill really did a number even on our new artificial reefs. Thankfully they seem to be recovering nicely. That doesn’t mean a blind eye should be turned to pollution or littering though. I’m sure you’ve all heard of what a plastic bag can do to a sea turtle, so let’s keep it clean.
Hook Line & Sinker
Obviously there are a lot of interesting facts about these reefs but honestly the best way to learn more about them is to see them for yourself! Should you find yourself in Fort Myers, FL be sure to take the time to check them out. I’d recommend planning a trip down here just for that purpose but that’s just my opinion. Regardless of whether you want to go fishing or just get to see them, it’s something you’ll never forget, and hopefully will always be around for everyone to see.