Location: 26811 South Tamiami Trail | Bonita Springs, FL 34134
On June 7, Ocean Habitats installed eight artificial Mini Reefs at the Royal Shell Port Sanibel Marina.
The effort is part of Ocean Habitat’s Thousand Reef Challenge—an effort to rebuild Florida’s living coastline.
It also helped kick off World Oceans Day on June 8.
“Royal Shell and Royal Shell Port Sanibel Marina are proud to rally behind the Thousand Reef Challenge. As a real estate company, Royal Shell handles an array of properties, many of which are surrounded by bodies of water that further enhance the properties’ beauty and make for quality waterfront living. Before we proceed, we must make it our business to protect our coastline with as much passion as we have for real estate,” said President and Managing Broker, Michael Polly.
One artificial Mini Reef is 24 inches by 36 inches. The lightweight apparatus, valued at $250, holds six to 10 large fish all year, supports over 500 fish and crustaceans per year, filters between 25,000 and 35,000 gallons of water a day and holds 20 to 30 panfish.
These reefs, designed to mimic a mangrove-like habitat, are vital to the Sunshine State’s coastline because they elevate the water quality and over time a community of fish will develop and thrive, including larger fish like grouper and snapper, and other marine animals like stone crab, shrimp, and spiny lobster. The Mini Reef lasts 10-plus years and it’s also alligator-proof.
The Royal Shell family came out to support the initiative. Later we were joined by a local radio station and TV news reporter.
Raffle prizes were given out as well. They were designed to celebrate Florida’s natural treasure, its water and unique beauty. Prizes included a boat or kayak rental from Royal Shell Port Sanibel Marina, and a gift certificate from Adventures in Paradise for a lunch and shelling cruise or a dolphin sightseeing cruise.
The reefs are put in under the marina’s docks and they’re made from polypropylene rope, fiberglass, PVC pipes and crab-trap floats. They can also be installed in brackish, saltwater or freshwater.
The reefs are designed and manufactured by the Fort Myers-based Ocean Habitats. They also come in two sizes, standard and the smaller “sampler,” installed under canal docks.
According to Ocean Habitats, each Mini Reef habitat can support 60 different marine species. When it’s fully developed after a year and a half, the Mini Reefs can clean 35,000 gallons of water a day.
Royal Shell is reaching out to individuals and other businesses to meet its 30-Mini-Reef goal at the marina. So far, eight have been installed. With the additional 22, the 30 reefs will clean nearly 330 million gallons of water a year.
If you’d like to help, you can donate here, https://www.facebook.com/OceanHabitats. Or drop off a check at the Royal Shell Port Sanibel Marina Ship Store, 14341 Port Comfort Road in Fort Myers. Please write “Reef Effort” in the subject line. All checks must be payable to Ocean Habitats.