Texas Artificial Reefs

July 5th, 2016

TXreefscuba Texas Artificial Reefs

Divers at reef MIA7 hover above a decommissioned platform in 150 feet of water 50 miles offshore Matagorda Island.

New life for old structures: Scientists are finding a surprising diversity of life on Texas artificial reefs

By Janice Van Dyke Walden

If there’s one uptick to the oil business, it’s that an old rig can bring new life.  Off the coast of Texas, some 195 structures, many of them decommissioned oil and gas platforms, are forming artificial reefs that provide intense colonies of marine life.  For sports fishermen, these are the go-to fishing spots.  For divers, these are dazzling underworlds of color and diversity.  For scientists, these are proof that the complex web of marine life can take place if provided space and structure.

Artificial reefs provide a solution to the barren bottom often found in northwestern Gulf of Mexico.  With the exception of a few natural banks, much of the ocean floor offshore Texas has no form for marine life to cling to, the kind of base that allows reef colonies to form. “Muddy and silty,” is how Jennifer Wetz describes the underwater terrain.  As Fisheries Project Manager for Harte Research Institute (HRI), Wetz has been diving and using Remote Operating Vehicles to study fish life among artificial reefs.  What she and her colleagues are finding among Texas’ artificial reefs is surprising.

“We didn’t expect to see how quickly these artificial reefs attract marine life,” says HRI Executive Director Dr. Larry McKinney.  Not only do submerged platforms become quickly colonized, they populate with an impressive diversity of fish.  In their study completed last year, HRI found 52 fish species from all observed sites, Snapper being the most common. “We also found the marine life habitat to be more complex than expected,” says McKinney.

That’s encouraging news to Chris Ledford, Artificial Reef Specialist at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, who has a queue of 25 structures in the process of being converted and permanently reefed.  With 81 reef sites in Texas – an increase from 64 in 2014 – those structures will eventually add to 7 more reef sites being planned.

McKinney sees the artificial reefs as taking the pressure off the region’s few natural reefs.  “The number of fishermen with fast, long-range boats are increasing, as are good, relatively inexpensive electronics, making it easier to find these natural reefs.  So what these artificial reefs do is make more opportunities available to the recreational fisherman, and it spreads the pressure away from the natural systems.”

texas reef map Texas Artificial Reefs

Click the image above to view TPWD’s artificial reef map.

An estimated 3,000 non-producing platforms remain in the Gulf, under terms to be permanently removed.  If a company is thinking of decommissioning an old platform, converting it to a reef makes sense for the environment, and it could save them money.  By converting a 4-pile structure to an artificial reef, a company could realize a savings of up to half a million dollars.  To find out more, visit: http://tpwd.texas.gov/landwater/water/habitats/artificial_reef/index.phtml

texas-reef-fishREEF SPECIES

Hart Research Institute’s ROV (remote operating vessel) documented these species on their study sites, listed here in order of most common to least common. (Data courtesy of Jennifer Wetz, M.S., Harte Research Institute.)

Red Snapper Lutjanus campechanus

Spanish Hogfish Bodianus rufus

Mangrove Snapper Lutjanus griseus

Blue Angelfish Holacanthus bermudensis

Rock Hind Epinephelus adscensionis

Horse-eye Jack Caranx latus

Yellow Jack Caranx bartholomaei

Spotfin Hogfish Bodianus pulchellus

Great Barracuda Sphyraena barracuda

Blue Runner Caranx crysos

Lookdown Selene vomer

Atlantic Spadefish Chaetodipterus faber

Vermillion Snapper Rhomboplites aurorubens

Damselfish sp. Stegastes sp.

Creole Fish Paranthias furcifer

Gray Triggerfish Balistes capriscus

Almaco Jack Seriola rivoliana

Greater Amberjack Seriola dumerili

Crevalle Jack Caranx hippos

Rainbow Runner Elagatis bipinnulata

Spotfin Butterflyfish Chaetodon ocellatus

Sheepshead Archosargus probatocephalus

Reef Butterflyfish Chaetodon sedentarius

Tomtate Haemulon aurolineatum

Bermuda Chub Kyphosus sectatrix

Bluehead wrasse Thalassoma bifasciatum

Queen Angelfish Holacanthus ciliaris

Cobia Rachycentron canadum

Blue Tang Acanthurus coeruleus

African Pompano Alectis ciliaris

Bar Jack Caranx ruber

Black Jack Caranx lugubris

Sandbar Shark Carcharhinus plumbeus

French Angelfish Pomacanthus paru

Lionfish Pterois volitans

Black Margate Anisotremus surinamensis

Squirrelfish Holocentrus adscensionis

Townsend Angelfish Holacanthus sp.

Sergeant Major Abudefduf saxatilis

Porkfish Anisotremus virginicus

Creole wrasse Clepticus parrae

Scamp Grouper Mycteroperca phenax

Sharpnose Puffer Canthigaster rostrata

Doctorfish Acanthurus chirurgus

Palometa Trachinotus goodei

Permit Trachinotus falcatus

Silky Shark Carcharhinus falciformus

Pigfish Orthopristis chrysoptera

Lane Snapper Lutjanus synagris

Yellowtail Snapper Ochyurus chrysurus

Cubera Snapper Lutjanus cyanopterus

Rock Beauty Holacanthus tricolor

Brown Chromis Chromis multilineata

Bicolor Damselfish Stegastes partitus

Parrotfish sp. Scaridae

Yellowmouth Grouper Mycteroperca interstitialis

Goliath Grouper Epinephelus itajara

Warsaw Grouper Epinephelus nigritus

Offshore Fishing Boats for the Gulf

June 8th, 2016

Venture far into the Gulf on any of these fine fishing boats from 24 – 36 ft.

grady27 Offshore Fishing Boats for the Gulf

Grady-White Fisherman 257

The Fisherman 257 was built ready to go offshore. Two insulated forward 120 quart boxes and a transom 185 quart box provide plenty of room for any pelagic or reef fish you bring in. The fully insulated 32-gallon lighted livewell keeps bait lively with full column raw water distribution. This ride makes for a comfortable, yet capable sport fishing machine.

  • Length: 24’ 9”
  • Beam: 8’ 6”
  • Fuel Capacity: 135 gal.
  • Max HP: 400 HP
  • Weight (w/o engines): 4,300 lbs.
  • Draft: 20”
  • Deadrise: 20°
  • Bait/Livewell: 32 gal.
  • Fish Storage: 120 qt. (2), 185 qt.

Visit Grady-White’s website for full specifications.

sailfish27 Offshore Fishing Boats for the Gulf

Sailfish 270cc

Improved fishability with higher gunnels, larger fish boxes, more interior room and a transom livewell make the 270 one of the best laid out fishing platform on the market. The improved functional and stylish helm offers ample room for your larger electronics and multiple storage compartments for gear and equipment.

  • Length: 26’ 2”
  • Beam: 9’
  • Fuel Capacity: 188 gal.
  • Max HP: 400 HP
  • Weight (rigged): 6,700 lbs.
  • Draft: 18”
  • Deadrise: 22-24°
  • Bait/Livewell: 30 gal.
  • Fish Storage: 260 qt. (2)
  • Rod Holders: 10

Visit Sailfish Boats’ website for full specifications.

capehorn24

Cape Horn 24os

With a host of changes in both design and style, the new Cape Horn 24os is more ready than ever to face what awaits 50+ miles offshore. The newly designed hull provides impressive ride comfort and fuel economy. A sprawling floor plan leaves more room to fish. Two big live wells make sure you will never run out of bait.

  • Length: 25’ 1”
  • Beam: 9’ 1”
  • Fuel Capacity: 136 gal.
  • Max HP: 400 HP
  • Weight (dry): 3,700 lbs.
  • Draft: 20”
  • Deadrise: 23°
  • Bait/Livewell: 30/45 gal.
  • Fish Storage: 470 qt.
  • Rod Holders: 20

Visit Cape Horn’s website for full specifications.

seahunt

Sea Hunt Gamefish 25

The Gamefish delivers exactly what serious fishermen demand in a sportfishing center console boat. This boat comes ready to fish with multiple insulated fishboxes and livewells as standard features. The cockpit has abundant room for 360° of fishing and the hull delivers a soft, dry ride.

  • Length: 25’ 6”
  • Beam: 9’
  • Fuel Capacity: 148 gal.
  • Max HP: 400 HP
  • Weight (dry): 4,700 lbs.
  • Draft: 19”
  • Deadrise: 21°
  • Bait/Livewell: 27/30 gal
  • Fish Storage: 148 qt. (2), 188 qt.

Visit Sea Hunt’s website for full specifications.

worldcat

World Cat 320cc

The 320CC is a versatile performer that excels in our Gulf chop. You can run flat out to your favorite fishing spot, even in rougher seas. A large 45 gallon livewell provides ample space for bait and over 1,300 quarts of insulated storage keeps your catch cold. Twelve gunwale-mounted rod holders and comfortable seating for twelve means you can bring the entire crew out fishing.

  • Length: 32’ 2”
  • Beam: 10’ 6”
  • Fuel Capacity: 279 gal.
  • Max HP: 600 HP
  • Weight (dry): 9,200 lbs.
  • Draft: 16”
  • Bait/Livewell: 45 gal.
  • Fish Storage: 300 qt. (2), 225 qt. (2), 105 qt.
  • Rod Holders (gunwale): 12

Visit World Cat’s website for full specifications.

Yellowfin 36 Offshore

The combination of speed, an unmatched dry ride and rugged construction make the 36 Yellowfin the boat to beat no matter where you are fishing. The 36 can be powered by twin or triple outboards and either option will yield speeds that few other boats in its class can match. Numerous console, leaning post and top options, let you customize the 36 to perfectly complement the way you fish. A huge 477 gallon fuel capacity lends incredible range to this ride.

  • Length: 36’ 8”
  • Beam: 10’
  • Fuel Capacity: 477 gal.
  • Max HP: 1,250 HP
  • Weight: 9,500 lbs.
  • Draft: 20”
  • Deadrise: 24°
  • Bait/Livewell:
  • Fish Storage:
  • Rod Holders:

Visit Yellowfin’s website for full specifications.

bostonwhaleroutrage

Boston Whaler 330 Outrage

With its precision-engineered deep-V hull, high padded gunnels and unsinkable Unibond construction, the 330 Outrage delivers an incredibly soft, safe, dry ride, whether you’re venturing far from shore or cruising close to home. State-of-the-art navigation and command systems make captaining a breeze, while smart ergonomic seating ensures an enjoyable ride for every passenger. In the bow, a plush forward lounge lifts to reveal ample storage below while the facing bow seats invite easy conversation.

  • Length: 33’ 1”
  • Beam: 10’ 2”
  • Fuel Capacity: 300 gal.
  • Max HP: 700 HP
  • Weight (dry): 9,000 lbs.
  • Draft: 22”
  • Deadrise: 23°
  • Bait/Livewell: 40/50 gal.
  • Fish Storage: 228 qt. (2)
  • Rod Holders: 16

Visit Boston Whaler’s website for full specifications.

capehorn36

Cape Horn 36os

The 36os features “more of everything.” The wide beam and excellent speed let get out into the Gulf faster and in comfort.  A 1,400 quart insulated fish box will hold any fish you may catch, including swordfish up to 9-feet-long. The rear 40 gallon live well is standard, as is the large transom gate. The main live well sports 60 gallons for keeping the largest of baits frisky. The 36os is a solid choice for the seasoned angler looking for all the advantages needed to fish harder than any other.

  • Length: 36’ 11”
  • Beam: 10’ 6”
  • Fuel Capacity: 410 gal.
  • Max HP: 1,100 HP
  • Weight: 7,900 lbs.
  • Draft: 24”
  • Deadrise: 23°
  • Bait/Livewell: 60/40 gal.
  • Fish Storage: 1,400 qt., 85 qt.
  • Rod Holders: 26

Visit Cape Horn’s website for full specifications.