St. Lucie County Artificial Reef Program:  BLAKE CHARRON FOUNDATION TRAIL

St. Lucie County Artificial Reef Program: BLAKE CHARRON FOUNDATION TRAIL

November 10, 2023 Off By admin

Once again, the St. Luce County Artificial Reef Program has received funding from others to create additional recreational destinations for boaters on the Treasure Coast and to help perpetuate fish stocks in the region. Over the last 18 years, the program has made 72 artificial reef deployments resulting in 60 new recreational destinations.

The latest reef was deployed with a generous donation from the Blake Charron Foundation and joins three other 500-ton concrete reefs deployed with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission funding in the same area.

The design of this reef was conceived to complement other reefs deployed on the Lee E. Harris Memorial Site. Other secondary concrete reefs deployed on this site have been deployed in piles of either 500, 1,000 or 1,500 tons. Using data collected from earlier reefs, three of the four reefs deployed in this area were deployed in a straight line between two of the FishAmerica Foundation reefs. Due to weather conditions, the fourth deployment occurred roughly 200 yards north of the other reefs. The reefs were designed so that they can be drift-fished or dived easily.

Providing juvenile fish habitat is also important in the deployment of these reefs. In addition to the linear footprint of these reefs, some objects from each of the four deployments will fall outside the main pile.  On shallower reefs, fish like juvenile black grouper will be attracted to outlying objects. On deeper reefs, juveniles of species such as snowy grouper and juvenile scamp have recruited to scattered concrete.

Producing areas where larval fish can settle and grow into juvenile fish is an important step in replenishing adult fishes harvested from the main piles.

Subject to confirmation by post-deployment dives, the new reefs were deployed:

• April 22 – 27°31.3652’N, 80°11.1431’W

• May 2 – 27°31.2525’N, 80°11.1295’W

• May 10 – 27°31.2393’N, 80°11.1427’W

• September – 27°31.2671’N, 80°11.1188’W

The reefs consist of a variety of structures such as drainage structures from American Concrete Industries and building footers from the H.D. King power plant.

Volunteers are needed to fish and dive these reefs and to provide information on their experiences on the new line of reefs. This will provide information for future reefs to be built in the area including (1) shape and size of reefs to be deployed, (2) the types of fish that can be found on these reefs, and (3) orientation of the reefs with respect to each other.  Tech divers Dani Claeyssens and Derek Ferguson shot a video of the A.A. Hendry Reef (ex-MY Time) deployed on July 15, 2023. They have given permission for the video to be shared on the County’s artificial reef website ( which shows the location and depth of the reef, orientation of the vessel, and use of the A.A. Hendry reef by both greater amberjack and gray snapper.  This video also shows the survival of most of the coral recruitment modules placed on the reef.  Deepwater corals like ivory tree have been documented growing on the Muliphen and Tug Lesley Lee reefs.

Fish assemblages on the most recent concrete reefs, deployed at 55-foot depths, are likely to include black seabass, blue runners, goliath grouper, snook, tomtates and various snapper species. Yellowtail snapper and cobia have also been recorded around these reefs while kingfish catches have been reported by anglers fishing over the many limestone special artificial reef modules scattered throughout the Lee E. Harris Memorial Site.

To learn more about the St. Lucie County Artificial Reef Program efforts to create additional recreational destinations or to learn about the program’s other projects to create fish habitat, contact Jim Oppenborn at (772) 462-1713 or

This article appeared in the November 2023 issue of Coastal Angler Magazine (Treasure Coast Edition).