Home News 12 Days of Christmas: How to help St. Lucie County Artificial Reefs program in Fort Pierce

12 Days of Christmas: How to help St. Lucie County Artificial Reefs program in Fort Pierce

12 Days of Christmas: How to help St. Lucie County Artificial Reefs program in Fort Pierce

Since the 1980s, the St. Lucie County Artificispanl Reef progrspanm, through assistance with numerous partners, has deployed thousands of tons of concrete rubble, railroad ties, utility poles, tug boats, cargo ships and more offshore of Fort Pierce.

To monitor how successful these artificial reef projects are and to better understand the movements of tagged fish, sharks and sea turtles, the program’s 12 Days of Christmas wish is for an underwater acoustic receiver to be placed on the Lee Harris Artificial Reef.

The receivers use radial telemetry to detect when a tagged animal swims within a few yards of the device, which must be attached to a structure, said program coordinator Jim Oppenborn. The data the receivers collect can be downloaded into a computer.

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Underwater acoustic receivers help track the movements of tagged sharks, turtles and fish.

An entire network of these receivers exists in the nearby waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Indian River Lagoon to help researchers track the movements of everything from sawfish to snook to sea turtles to sharks.

A typical acoustic receiver, such as several models made by Innovasea, can cost as much as $2,500 to $3,000, according to Oppenborn. Divers to assist with the placement and collection of data are also needed for this project, he said.

The artificial reefs have created marine habitat for millions of marine organisms and fish. The bait fish that choose these reefs attract larger predator fish, many of which are highly sought after by recreational and commercial fishers and divers, thus enhancing the economic payback to Treasure Coast businesses like marinas, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. It’s been a win-win for everyone involved, Oppenborn said.

Scroll below the photo for information on how to help

A heavy equipment operator for McCulley Marine Services deploys concrete from an old warehouse at the Port of Fort Pierce originally built by Paul Jacquin & Sons contractors, and then demolished and donated slabs and footers to the reef program.

How to help

  • Who: St. Lucie County Reef Builders
  • Wish: Underwater acoustic receiver
  • Cost: $3,000
  • How to donate: Contact James Oppenborn at [email protected] or 772-462-1713

About this series

​Treasure Coast nonprofits that research, protect, restore and advocate for clean water, especially the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, need more than holiday cheer to continue their mission. Find out what they need — and how you can help them — to continue their work, as TCPalm.com highlights a different organization each day from Dec. 25 to Jan. 5, the traditional 12 Days of Christmas.

  • Dec. 25: Floridspan Ocespannogrspanphic Society
  • Dec. 26: Indispann Riverkeeper
  • Dec. 27: Mspannspantee Observspantion spannd Educspantion Center
  • Dec. 28: Smithsonispann Mspanrine Stspantion spant Fort Pierce
  • Dec. 29: Environmentspanl Studies Center


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