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Artificial Reefs: Build It, And They Will Come

This week, crews have been dropping 1,300 tons of broken concrete in the St. Johns River - just south of the Fuller Warren Bridge. That’s where the Coastal Conservation Association is building two massive artificial reefs. It’s paid for with $60,000 dollars in donations.

"Soon, it’ll be covered with critters," said project manager Joseph Kistel. "Things like barnacles and mussels and algae will grow on that structure...and that provides a foundation food source."

Kistel is the director of TISIRI - a marine conservation organization. He said those shell species will attract bait fish and blue crabs...and those will be food for sport fish like sheepshead and black drum. And giving all those fish plenty of places to live and thrive is project is all about.

"Now you have the spots out here very close to downtown, where you can do a quick boat ride out here, drop a fishing line, catch some fish, catch some lunch, and enjoy yourself on the beautiful St. Johns River. All because some trash concrete was placed out here."

Kistel will drop the last of the concrete Friday.

Country music singer Kenny Chesney contributed $30,000 to the reef-building project.

Peter Haden is an award-winning investigative reporter and photographer currently working with The Center for Investigative Reporting. His stories are featured in media outlets around the world including NPR, CNN en Español, ECTV Ukraine, USA Today, Qatar Gulf Times, and the Malaysia Star.