Expansion of the Bendickson artificial reef located 20 nautical miles west of Hernando Beach is scheduled to take place the last two weeks of August, pending good weather and calm seas. Approximately 600 tons of reinforced concrete structures will be deployed on bare sand bottom areas near the existing ten U.S. Army M-60 tanks that currently make up the reef.
While in the Bendickson Reef-area, mariners and fisherman are asked to refrain from anchoring within 500 feet of the barge or reef and to exercise caution while deployment operations are underway.
The new structures consist of a wide variety of surplus concrete pipes, box culverts and stormwater inlets with the largest structures weighing nearly 35,000 pounds. Smaller concrete pipes will be stacked within the largest structures to maximize habitat for fish and other marine life. Upon project completion, the reef will be three times larger than its original size. The reef deployment will be completed by Colleen Marine based in Port St Joe, Florida
“The reef expansion will greatly enhance fishing opportunities by providing both high relief structure and deep cover habitat for desirable fish like gag and red grouper, mangrove and gray snapper, Spanish mackerel, and pelagic species including amberjack, cobia and kingfish,” County Administrator Leonard Sossamon said. “In addition to the expansion of the Bendickson Reef, three shallow water reefs are planned to be deployed closer to shore this fall.”
The Bendickson Reef was created in 1995 as part of Operation REEFX, a multi-county cooperative project with the US Army. Two years later, approximately 200 tons of concrete material was added to the reef.
The expansion project is made possible through a grant from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Artificial Reef Program and through the support of the Hernando County Board of County Commissioners and the Port Authority.