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Pieces from Old Village water tower, concrete shark added to artificial reef off Edisto Island coast

SCDNR biologists created the life-sized concrete shark to create a photo opportunity for divers...
SCDNR biologists created the life-sized concrete shark to create a photo opportunity for divers who visit the artificial reef.(SCDNR)
Published: Sep. 18, 2021 at 6:06 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A new addition to an artificial reef built from a retired barge found its way to the seafloor off the coast of Edisto Island Tuesday.

The retired 250-foot barge included pieces of a deconstructed water tower, shipping containers and a shark sculpture. The state department of natural resources say they expect marine life to colonize the reef and fish to begin schooling in the area within six months.

Robert Martore, the head of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ artificial reef program, says the diversity in the structures on the reef will allow for several different species to inhabit the area.

“The variety of structures will provide habitat for a diverse array of species,” Martore said.”The open spaces of the container boxes provide a cave-like interior that larger species like snapper and grouper prefer, while the pieces of the water tower create low relief habitat that provide refuge for smaller species and juveniles.”

The Department of Natural Resources says artificial reefs play a similar role to coral reefs in the ocean and the manmade structures are typically placed in seafloor areas with little natural relief. the artificial reefs improve the habitat and spawning grounds for marine life as well as attract divers and anglers to the area.

In addition to expanding the habitats for offshore fish, officials say artificial reef projects allow for the recycling of materials that would otherwise end up in landfills.

The department says they partnered with Mount Pleasant Waterworks for the project as the utility donated the recently removed Old Village water tower. Officials say the repurposed structures undergo a “rigorous cleaning process” before being added to an artificial reef.

“Repurposing our Old Village Water Tank as an artificial reef allows us the opportunity to fulfill our mission of protecting the environment,” Mount Pleasant Waterworks General Manager Allan Clum said. “We all have something at stake when it comes to water, and we’re grateful for our partnership with SCDNR as we work together to protect our natural resources.”

The barge also hold 12 container boxes and a life-sized concrete sculpture of a white shark designed by SCDNR biologists.

“We decided to get creative and create a photo op that scuba divers would enjoy,” Martore said.

The Edisto 60′ reef is located about 10 nautical miles offshore and over 20 structures have already been deployed in the area.

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