artificial reefs city of sarasota

Dive Into the Eco-Wonders of Sarasota's Artificial Reefs

Human ingenuity meets marine life in an environmental blend of recreation, conservation and community benefits via Sarasota's artificial reefs program.

Our crystal-clear waters and vibrant sea life remain our bread and butter. That's why Sarasota County implemented an artificial reef program that, for the last 15 years, has positively contributed to the fishing, diving and boating industries, and managed and secured the appropriate permits for the development of artificial reefs in the inshore and offshore waters of Sarasota County.

By providing a unique habitat for marine life, these carefully constructed reef balls are proving to be an essential part of preserving the region's locale and ecology. They've even proven to enhance the recreational experience of fishing and diving and improve scientific marine research. So whether you're an angler, diver, marine biologist or simply a nautical admirer, there's no denying the allure of Sarasota's artificial reefs.

What are Artificial Reefs?

artificial reef in sarasota bay

Artificial reef photos courtesy of Sarasota County

Artificial reefs are structures of natural or human origin intentionally placed on the seafloor to create new habitats for a variety of fish and invertebrates. These reefs can be made from materials like limestone boulders or concrete, and can even include heavy-gauge steel (Allowable materials for artificial reef use are determined by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) and Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) permit criteria). Deployed material is required to be heavy, stable, durable, and non-polluting and provide long-term habitat enhancement.

The goal is to provide a non-invasive vessel that not only seamlessly adapts into the natural environment but encourages the growth of marine life—which, in turn, benefits local coastal communities.

Artificial reef construction can only be completed by state or local coastal governments (County or City) in authorized permitted areas. The Army Corps of Engineers does not issue artificial reef permits directly to the general public (private citizens, fishing clubs, and nongovernmental organizations) due to long-term liability coverage requirements.

Benefits of Artificial Reefs

venice fishing pier family fishing

 

The benefits of artificial reefs go deeper than you think! At a glance, here are just a few ways these sea floor-dwelling boulders can help our Sarasota ecosystem and economy:

  • Enhanced recreational and diving opportunities, allowing anglers and divers to explore new habitats and spot a variety of fish and marine life.
  • Socio-economic benefits to local coastal communities, supporting local businesses and jobs.
  • Increased biodiversity and reef fish habitat, which is essential for maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem.
  • Mitigation reefs that replace hard bottom habitat lost through activities like beach re-nourishment and vessel groundings.
  • Oyster reef growth and regeneration, helping to restore this important ecosystem.
  • Shoreline protection, which helps to prevent erosion and damage from storms.

 

Fishing & Diving in Sarasota

sarasota fishing guide

 

Sarasota's almost 40 miles of coastline, six barrier islands and healthy gulf waters make it a haven for outdoor adventurers and saltwater enthusiasts alike. Whether you prefer to be on the water or in it, fishing, boating and diving don't get much better than here. 

With over 4 million recreational anglers in Florida, the economic impact of saltwater recreational fishing is significant. In fact, it generates $13.9 billion in statewide economic impact and supports over 120,000 jobs.

For divers, Sarasota's artificial reefs offer a unique opportunity to explore underwater landscapes teeming with marine life. With the right equipment and knowledge, you can discover a world of wonder just beneath the surface.

Get Involved

siesta key beach

 

If you're interested in exploring or supporting Sarasota's artificial reefs, there are several ways to get involved. You can:

  • Contact local fishing charters or dive operators to plan a trip to one of the reefs.
  • Visit the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) website for more information on artificial reefs, or boating and fishing regulations/permits. 
  • Join a local conservation organization or participate in area beach cleanups to help protect the marine environment.
     

For more information about Sarasota County’s artificial reef program, call 311 or 941-861-5000.