Eco-SMART Reefs



Strategically Made Artificial Reef Technology

Ecologically & Economically Engineered/Designed Total Reef Systems

The BIG BEND COASTAL CONSERVANCY’s design, development & deployment

Designed by Nature for Nature

Artificial Reef Program Design & Development for Big Bend of Florida


* These Artificial Reefs have been specially designed and engineered by the BBCC to mimic natural reef structures of our local Gulf waters

* These reefs pictured are SPECIFICALLY designed to ecologically match and enhance the St. Marks Reef system

* The natural limestone embedded in these reefs is the same type of limestone that naturally occurs in our near-shore and off-shore areas; oyster shells also can be used for near-shore areas; No two reefs are the same; just like in nature

* Notice the difference in the spacing between the layers of the two reefs:

  • The smaller spacing (of the 3 tier reef) allows habitat for smaller fish such as juvenile grouper (5” – 12” long) as they migrate from the grass beds to the near shore areas
  • This smaller spacing will also be great habitat for rock bass and especially stone crabs
  • Secondary spacing and holes within the structure are made to look like holes (solution cavities) in natural limestone; each reef will be different – just like in nature’s reef systems
  • The total structure is used by free swimming fish to have a point of orientation; the reef positioned on the ocean bottom causes upwelling of nutrients from bottom transport which allows smaller fish to feed
  • These reef systems were designed for areas with shallow sand covering limestone – as specifically found in the St. Marks Reef system; fish like flounder that rely on ambush for capturing their prey will find welcome habitat here
  • The larger spacing on the two tier structure will be used by larger reef fish such as larger grouper and larger rock bass; the (cement) cypress knees in these structures are exact imprints and cast from real cypress knees and are to mimic a paleo-river channel

* We have used a special high-tensile strength concrete, which is impervious to water intrusion to supply a super- hardened substrate for the marine life that will be immediately colonizing the rock structures

* The course/rough texture of the finished concrete will encourage colonization by sponges, corals (both hard and soft species) and invertebrates to add a wide diversity of ecological niches to each reef system

* Sand can move freely about the bottom of the structure as needed; these will be resting on limestone subsurface





  • The smaller reef weighs ~1,000 pounds & the larger reef weighs ~1,500 pounds
  • The economic benefit of an artificial reef is: for each $1.00 invested in building a reef – this translates into $138 in local economic value!
  • These reefs were made by a locally owned/operated family business for the BBCC!
  • Eco-Smart Reefs are designed and engineered by the Big Bend Coastal Conservancy (BBCC), a 501(c)(3) non-profit which protects our coastal systems
  • A recent grant was awarded by FWC (funded through recreational fishing licenses) to the City of St. Marks for $70,000 for enhancement of the St. Marks Artificial Reef (~5 NM South of the Lighthouse) in ~20’ of water
  • FWC, DEP, ACOE & EPA strictly regulate artificial reef deployments in State & Federal waters
  • The installation of at least 65 of these reef systems is proposed and will be scheduled to be completed by Dec. 2014!

Want to know more?
Contact Tony Murray
by e-mail:
or by phone: (850) 228-4114

Ask about our Memorial Reef Program


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