Reef project helps filter local waters

Reef project helps filter local waters
David Wolff passes two of the mini reefs down to his son to be secured underneath the dock. Once installed in the water, the reefs bob just under the surface and are ready to become a home for oysters, fish, plants and other sea life. - Kristin Swain | Sun

BRADENTON BEACH – A windy, cloudy afternoon didn’t stop the father-son team of David and David Wolff from coming out to the dock behind the Bridge Tender Inn Dec. 20 to install four mini reefs as a part of The Center’s Go Green initiative.

The four reefs were only a part of the six reefs purchased by the Bridge Tender’s owner, Fred Bartizal, who purchased two additional reefs to be placed in the water near his home.

In a statement emailed to The Sun, Bartizal said, “The Bridge Tender Inn takes great pride in going green. Everyone should be doing it; it is essential for the earth and future generations.” He added that the restaurant participates in recycling and is switching over to biodegradable napkins, straws, cutlery and to-go containers.

David Wolff Jr. carries two of the mini reefs down the dock to be installed at the Bridge Tender Inn. – Kristin Swain | Sun

The mini reefs, the brainchild of David Wolff of Ocean Habitats LLC, are made almost exclusively of sustainable materials designed to hold around 150 pounds with a lifespan of 10-15 years. The reefs are installed underneath docks, attached by floating marine ropes, and bob just underneath the surface where they provide a home for fish and other marine life. Ocean Habitat’s mini reefs can be used in salt and brackish water. They filter over 30,000 gallons of water per day and can provide a nursery home for fish and crabs, producing around 300 fish per year and 200 crabs per year.

Wolff said the idea for the reefs came out of a college research project. Once he shrunk the initial reef down to its current 24x36x24 inch size and rethought all of the materials with longevity and sustainability in mind, he developed the current mini reef and a fish crib to be used in freshwater lakes and ponds.

Though the mini reefs are available through the Ocean Habitats website, they’re also available through The Center of Anna Maria Island at a discounted price, including installation.

David Wolff Jr. secures two of the mini reefs underneath the dock at The Bridge Tender Inn. – Kristin Swain | Sun

The reefs are being made available as a part of The Center’s Go Green campaign, encouraging community members to live a more sustainable life while also supporting the nonprofit. Each reef can be purchased for $350 with $150 going to support The Center’s annual fund. Through Jan. 15, a private donor is sponsoring a donation match up to $130,000, so any reefs purchased by the deadline produces an additional $150 donation for a total of $300 back to The Center.

Center Director of Development Jim McDaniel said that as of Dec. 20, 52 mini reefs had been purchased and were planned to be installed around Anna Maria Island by the New Year. He said an additional four were in-process. The goal, he said, is to not only see what kind of positive impact these mini reefs can have on local waters but also to see how many new donors will come forward to help out The Center.

Once all of the reefs are installed, McDaniel said The Center plans to create a map of the reef locations and hopefully will be able to use the project for research purposes in the future.

For people who want a different, but still tangible, way to support The Center, there’s the Giving Reef, located in the nonprofit’s lobby. For the Giving Reef, program directors priced and placed tags with items needed, from soccer balls to new fitness equipment, on the reef. Anyone can come in, find something that they feel passionate about supporting or that fits into their budget and provide the funds to purchase that item. McDaniel said that items range from about $130 to $3,500 and are all currently included in The Center’s budget. By community members purchasing those items, those budgeted funds can go back into the annual fund for use in other areas or for saving for the future of the nonprofit.

For more information on the mini reefs and the Giving Reef, visit The Center online.

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