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Artificial Reef Logo
Natural Coral Reef Formation off the Coast of Palm Beach 

Running parallel to Palm Beach County’s coast lies natural coral reef formations created thousands of years ago that are part of the northern portion of Florida’s Coral Reef that spans from St. Lucie Inlet south into the Florida Keys.

We have part of the only living barrier coral reef in the continental United States and third largest in the world.

  

 

  Palm Beach County Reefs Logo Florida's Coral Reef Logo

Snorkelers Swmimming Above an Artificial Limestone Rock Reef 

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 out of limestone, concrete, and occasionally decommissioned ships that become beautiful marine habitats for algae, corals, and other marine life.

ERM has deployed over 55 vessels, 100,000 tons of concrete, and 140​,000 tons of limestone boulders creating artificial reefs.

For a list of Palm Beach County's Artificial Reefs & locations click here.


 

​Click here for a full screen image.

 

Click here for Google Maps. 

Natural Reefs just offshore Palm Beach County's coastline

Why Are Natural Reefs Important? 

Natural reefs provide the building blocks to support all other aquatic plants and animals that make southeast Florida reefs their home by providing shelter, supplying food, and offering refuge for young marinelife to develop just to name a few.

Natural reefs create recreational resources attracting people interested in diving, snorkeling, and fishing and in Southeast Florida over 1 billion dollars is generated in our local economy through activities associated with artificial reefs every year. 

Natural reefs protect our coast line by acting like cushion taking the initial impact from onshore waves, currents, and storms and absorbing their energy and dispersing it which helps to prevent loss of life, property damage, and erosion.

Artificial reef rock supporting marinelife such as snook 

Why Do We Need Artificial Reefs? 

Artificial reefs help natural reefs by providing additional areas for recreational use by scuba divers and anglers that are in separate locations from natural reefs.
 
Artificial reefs develop into additional hard bottom coral habitat that once established function as a natural reef system
providing food, shelter, protection, and spawning areas for marine life.
 
Artificial reefs support Palm Beach County’s economy providing an estimated 1800 jobs and contributing millions of dollars to businesses, restaurants, and hotels.
​​Concrete Sculpture of a Hammerhead Shark that was deployed as an artifical reef

How Do You Make Artificial Reefs? 

Various materials are used to create artificial reefs based on availability and include decommissioned ships, various types of concrete structures, and limestone rock.  Each of these materials offers advantages for deployment, ability to withstand the harsh marine environment, and  unique habitat configurations for marinelife diversity.

​SHIPS
​​CONCRETE
 (Recycled materials and pre-fabricated modules)
​​LIMESTONE ROCK
Artificial Reef Ship the Ana Cecilia​​

Prefabricated Reef Module Limestone Rock Artificial Reef with Shark
  • ​​Deployed at depths offering deep water organisms habitat.
  • Provide a surface that hard corals quickly settle on​.
  • High vertical walls and large openings provide habitat areas for reef fish to aggregate and find shelter.​
  • Create upwelling conditions, current shadows, and changes in current direction and speed that attract schools of bait fish.
  • Reuses building materials (bridge railings, road culverts, concrete slabs) for habitat versus adding to landfills.
  • Provides a surface that hard corals quickly settle on forming a diverse habitat in a short amount of time.
  • Pre-fabricated modules can be designed for various life stages, biological communities, and users by altering design components. 
  • Closest to natural Anastasia rock which is the base of PBC’s natural reef system.
  • Nooks and crannies offer small marinelife shelter.
  • When deployed in shallow water, often become a nursery for juvenile fish to find refuge & food.
  • Nurse sharks and turtles love to sleep nestled around the base of limestone rock reefs.​​​
FLORIDA CORAL REEF PROTECTION ACT

​​​Makes it illegal to anchor on a natural reef because dragging an anchor along the sea fl​oo​r or dropping anchor on a natural reef can permanently dislodge corals and sponges. ​​


​​Image showing proper tie-up techniques to a mooring buoy

Help Our Reefs

 

 Don't Drop Anchor, Tie Up to a MOORING BUOY!

Palm Beach County manages a ​system of mooring buoys at locations listed below so that boaters, divers, and fisherman can safely moor their vessels to protect offshore reefs. These buoys range from 12 feet to 25 feet deep, are available to the public for use on a first come, first serve basis,​ require no payment or fee,​​ are designed to handle only one boat at a time, and overnight mooring is prohibited.​

Diamondhead Radnor
2 Mooring Buoys
26°54.811' N, - 80°03.521' W ​

​Breakers Reef
16 mooring buoys
26°42.892' N, - 80°01.815' W 

 Mar-a-Lago
6 mooring buoys
​26°41.105' N, - 80°01.852' W 

Boca Raton Patch Reef
10 mooring Buoys
26°20.648' N - 80°03.914' W to 26°23.165' N, - 80°03.684' W


Follow These Steps to attach to a MOORING BUOY!    

1. Approach the buoy from down wind or current

 2. Retrieve the pick-up line with your boat hook

 3. ALWAYS pass your boat's bow-line through the eye of the pick-up line
NEVER tie the buoy directly to your boat's cleat

 4. Put out extra scope and cleat your bow-line off securely
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Pufferfish swimming at a Palm Beach County Artificial Reef Site

Who Pays for the Artificial Reefs?

Funding for the County’s artificial reef program comes from vessel registration fees, grants from federal and state agencies, and donations from fishing clubs​​, local dive associations, corporations, and individuals. Non-monetary support includes donated reef material such as old concrete, prefabricated reef modules, underwater art installations (pictured), and ships.​

WARNING: Many artificial reefs lie in water depths that exceed the recommended sport diving limitations. Any swimmer, diver, or snorkeler shall approach or visit each artificial reef at his or her own risk. The Palm Beach County Artificial Reef Program and Committee, the Board of County Commissioners of Palm Beach County, and the County of Palm Beach are not responsible for any hazards which may exist or arise on, about, or near the artificial reefs, or for any injuries or fatalities which may occur as a result of any person's presence on, about, or near the artificial reefs.