The foundation donated 1000 tons of boulders to Palm Beach County this summer and they were deployed making two huge new reefs off Juno Beach in 80’ of water this summer.
The first reef was the “Derek Beckel Memorial Reef” created at the north end of our mile long Juno reef trail. Derek was an inspiring young man who passed away a year ago after a battle with cancer. His family and friends raised $35,000 to cover the cost of 500 tons of boulders and 25 flatbed trucking roundtrips to transport the boulders from the mine to the offshore barge loading area. Derek’s Reef is already thriving and I send his family videos every chance I get to dive the site.
But it’s been a very unusual summer where offshore diving conditions have been poor for extended periods of time. Water visibility is still poor as I write this. I think the culprit is a lack of the normal prevailing southeast wind this summer and huge amounts of rain that runs off into the ocean south of us. Ft Lauderdale has received 10% more rain this year than any other town in the United States. A southeast wind brings the Gulfstream in closer to land and gives us the beautiful conditions we normally have offshore. The absence of the cleansing Gulfstream current means the rain run-off water carried to us by the prevailing northerly current, however light this year, lingers. I am hopeful conditions will return to normal soon. The offshore conditions don’t necessarily make a big impact on the marine life on our two mile-long reef trails off Juno and Jupiter, it just makes it harder to video it and fewer trips out to try.
After we deployed Derek’s Reef, we trucked another 25 flatbed loads of boulders and deployed a second 500 ton reef on a central location near the south end of our Juno reef trail.
This reef is also thriving.
There is an insatiable demand from fish and all manner and marine life for more structure to address their needs and allow them to accomplish their goals:
- a safe place to live where they won’t get eaten
- a roof over their head at night
- a steady supply of food
- structure that allows them to spawn and their fry to survive while they grow
- to get out of the current
The Foundation has raised and spent over $2 million dollars since it’s 2014 founding.
Our funding comes from public and private sources, businesses and individuals.
We have a great group of volunteers who donate their time and expertise. The common thread is an interest in the Foundation’s mission of “enhancing and protecting the marine environment in northern Palm Beach County”. I like to tell donors that the Foundation is different from most other non profits because donors can personally benefit from the Foundation’s artificial reef building.
Plans for 2024
We won’t commit to our 2024 plans until the Spring, but I am thinking about building a second and maybe a third huge reef on our Jupiter and Juno trails. I picture adding 4’ – 5’ diameter boulders on top of an existing 8’ tall boulder reef at the south end of the Jupiter Trail and bringing it up to 25’ tall. We could do the same on top of another existing Jupiter reef or on top of an existing Juno 8’ tall reef.
We have 12 boulder reefs on the Jupiter Trail and another 12 on the Juno Trail. One of the reefs on the Jupiter Trail is 26’ tall, nineteen of the boulder reefs are 12’ – 14’ tall and four are 8’ – 10’ tall.
A 12’ tall reef is about the size of a house.
The “Andrew Harris Reef” about 800’ into the Jupiter Trail is our tallest at 26’ and the life on it is amazing. We may also choose to extend the Jupiter and Juno sites further south. Both have reached the northern end of their respective permits.
The Palm Beach County has proclaimed the second Saturday in December to be “Andrew Harris Artificial Reef Day” in perpetuity and the Town of Jupiter has reserved and donated it’s beachfront Civic Center to us on that day each year.
Our next event is the December 9, 2023 Reef Day celebration at the Jupiter Civic Center.
It’s an annual invitation-only event for the Foundation’s friends and supporters.