Palm Beach County Sinks Newest Artificial Reef, TCPalm, 03/25/07
By Danny Moody
If you have fished the offshore waters of Palm Beach County, then you have, more that likely, fished over one of the 60-plus artificial reef systems that are scattered around our offshore waters.
Artificial reefs are various forms of structure, usually placed by a government agency or foundation for the purpose of promoting new sea life. These reefs are most commonly made from old ship hulls, concrete structure or types of material that see life is easily attracted to.
Agencies are very careful in the placement of artificial reefs. Areas are targeted that have minimal or no other form of structure on the seabed.
The introduction of new structure in these areas creates an entirely new living system complete with areas to promote coral and other reef growth and habitat and protection for various types of reef fish.
Since the Mid-1960s, Palm Beach County has set the precedent for artificial reef development and management. It is a model that worked very successfully and followed by others around the state.
On March 16th, Palm Beach County's newest artificial reef was sunk in 220 feet of water off Singer Island. The West Palm Beach Fishing Club partnered with Palm Beach County's Environmental Resources Management Department (ERM) to scuttle the freighter.
The ship was sunk on the outside edge of an existing artificial reef that includes nearly 7,000 tons of concrete (from the old Royal Park Bridge — the middle bridge to Palm Beach), a 150-ft barge and a 60-ft steel hull sailboat.
This new reef will primarily serve as a fishing reef. The vessel is a 265-foot general cargo ship that was built in the Netherlands in 1970. Originally named the "Celtic Crusader,"it had its name changed to "Supremity"and later to "Korimu,"which was the final name printed on the hull.
There are two deck levels on the vessel and the ship's beam is about 44.5 ft. The ship has a vertical profile approaching 80 feet.
Palm Beach County purchased the vessel from the Bunnell Foundation at a cost of $75,000. The WPBFC donated $10,000 toward the purchase price and named the reef the John Rybovich Endowment Reef.
In the 1960s, prominent boat builder John Rybovich, then president of the WPBFC, was instrumental in helping establish Palm Beach County's first artificial reef. It was called the East Palm Beach Reef and consisted of several scuttled ships.
The WPBFC has a special endowment fund named in memory of Rybovich, which supports game fish research, marine enhancement projects like the creation of this new reef, as well as youth education initiatives like annual scholarships for marine biology students at Palm Beach Atlantic University and Florida Atlantic University.
"This is part of Johnny Rybovich's legacy. The Fishing Club is just continuing the good work he started nearly 50 years ago," said WPBFC President John Jolley who along with Kay Rybovich were among those to watch the vessel be scuttled.
Additionally, the Fishing Club attached two fish attracting devices (F.A.D.'s) to the ship prior to sinking that will increase the ship's profile in the water column. The devices are designed to make the reef more attractive to baitfish and popular species like wahoo, blackfin tuna and sailfish.
The WPBFC spent an additional $4,000 on this unique aspect of the project.
"We had perfect deployment today. The F.A.D.'s went down exactly how we wanted them to," said an exuberant Nelson Schad who helped engineer the devices.
Before ships like these can be used for reefing, they must undergo extensive preparation. All floatables, debris and pollutants must be removed and sampling and testing for asbestos and polychlorinated bi-phenyls must be completed.
The U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management were involved in clearing this latest vessel for reefing.
The approximate coordinates of the new reef site are 2647.926' N and 79 59.391'
Other artificial reefs near Jupiter Inlet are:
• Jupiter Concrete — 250 tons of concrete. 90'14351.2 62006.326 59.79 N 80 00.45.
• Barge MG III — 195-foot Hopper Barge. 60'14351.7 62010.326 58.67 N* 80 01.49
• Barge MG III — 900 tons concrete. 60'14351.7 62010.326 58.67 N* 80 01.49
• Tug Boat Reef — three 70-foot tug boats. 70'N/A26 58.56 N* 80 00.98
• WESSO BONAIRE III — 147-foot Tanker. 90'14351.3 62006.526 57.85 N*80 00.48
• MISS JENNY — 55-foot Dredge Barge. 90'14351.2 62006.426 57.83 N* 80 00.44
• Zion Train — 164-foot Freighter. 90'N/A26 57.78 N* 80 00.44
• Sea Mist II — 270-foot Coastal Freighter. 210'N/A26 57.49' N*79 59.106'
• Diamondhead Radnor Rock— 19,500 tons cloth on rock. 15'N/A26 54.83' N* 80 03.44'
• Diamondhead Radnor Concrete — 9,500 tons cloth on rock. 15'N/A26 54.83' N* 80 03.44'
• Diamondhead Radnor Barge — 110-foot Barge. 20'N/A26 54.74' N* 80 03.44' W
If you have fishing photos or reports, you can reach Danny Moody at email@example.com or at (561) 719-3433.