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Reefs placed in the gulf to help scientists better understand coastal concerns

Research Reef
Posted at 3:44 PM, Mar 01, 2023

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — On Wednesday, Florida Gulf Coast University researchers installed several artificial research reefs to help scientists better understand some of our biggest coastal concerns.

Doctor Michael Parsons from FGCU's Water School said Hurricane Ian has greatly stressed the gulf.

“Ian stirred up a lot of sediment, it affected water quality,” said Parsons.

The Impact was being studied by Florida Gulf Coast University researchers, by dropping 18 research reefs each weighing more than 19,000 pounds, which is part of the university's program, 'Kimberly's Reef.'

The reef is named in honor of the late Kimberly Anne Rieseberg, daughter of Eric Rieseberg who, along with Helen Noble Rieseberg, contributed funds to make the reef installation possible.

One of the real-time problems researchers were seeing on Wednesday was red tide, an issue Dr. Parsons said the reefs would look into.

“A lot of it is looking at how red tide affects the fish that live on the bottom in these artificial reefs environments also including things like pen shells or other shellfish,” said Parsons.

Impacts that FGCU researcher and diver, Adam Catasus said he's seen firsthand, diving down to survey these artificial reefs.

Catasus said these reefs can help researchers understand how to better protect the coastline against hurricanes, specifically as a possible barrier to lessen the impact of storm surge on the coastline.

“It's something to know for the future if you want to plan if hurricanes like Hurricane Ian are a continual thing. It's another tool research managers use to protect our shorelines,” said Catasus.

On Wednesday Catasus said both students and professionals would use the reefs to learn more not only about the impact of Ian, but how quickly our waters can recover

“Thats pretty much what we are really hoping to document and say hey it got deployed today, okay what happens in a month, in three months what happens in a year?” said Catasus.