BRUNSWICK — The Georgia Department of Natural Resources sought to enhance offshore fishing opportunities with the recent deployment of materials at Artificial Reef KC, 9 nautical miles east of Wassaw Island.
DNR staff coordinated the sinking of a 254-foot hopper barge loaded with 330 metal chicken-transport cages at the reef site.
The Coastal Conservation Association — Georgia (Sapelo Chapter) facilitated the donation of the cages by the Claxton Poultry Farms and the Savannah Steel Terminal/Georgia Recyclers contributed the barge, which weighs an estimated 580 tons.
Staging for the materials and heavy-equipment and crane work was provided by the East Coast Terminal Company in Savannah.
The materials were prepared and towed to the site location by Savannah-based marine transportation company Biblia Inc.
These materials will be colonized by barnacles, soft corals and sponges providing the basis of a food web that will attract larger saltwater game fish such as grouper, flounder, black sea bass and king mackerel.
Endangered sea turtles and other sea life also use these manmade reefs as foraging and resting habitat.
DNR staff will monitor the site annually using side-scan sonar and diver surveys to document the structural integrity of the materials, as well as the fish and invertebrate abundance and diversity.
Currently, there are 30 sites encompassing 52 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean designated for deployment of reef materials.
The coordinates for the new materials at KC Reef are 31 degrees 50.381 minutes north latitude and 80 degrees and 46.527 minutes west longitude.