Texas A&M-Galveston Prof Gets $240,000 Grant For Artificial Reef
GALVESTON – Future generations of marine life — not to mention recreational fishermen and scuba divers — will benefit from a $240,000 grant awarded to a Texas A&M University at Galveston researcher to expand an artificial reef system off the Texas coast.
Tim Dellapenna, associate professor of marine science and oceanography, received the grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife to expand and enhance the Vancouver Reef, located about 10 miles from Freeport. Once finished, the reef system will provide new living areas for a variety of marine organisms and create a new playground for divers to explore its multitude of underwater nooks and crannies.
The reef bears the name of the Liberty Ship George Vancouver, which was used during World War II to transport supplies to troops in Europe and Africa, including aiding soldiers in the famous battle of El Alamein. It later traveled to ports in Australia and New Zealand before being decommissioned, and in 1976, it was intentionally sunk off Freeport to form a reef system.
Dellapenna says the plans are for the Vancouver Reef system to expand from its current 40 acres to 160 acres using large concrete blocks placed near the ship to form a more useful and productive reef system.
“It will allow for more marine organisms to live in the reef system,” he explains, “and it will also provide excellent shelter for fish in the area.
“One of the first things we have to do is to map the seabed there using side scan sonar, and we will also perform a nautical survey of the area, which is required for all reef systems.”
Once that work is finished, workers will know exactly where to arrange the concrete blocks, which weigh from three to 12 tons each.
Dellapenna says the Vancouver lies in fairly shallow waters, “from 40 to 60 feet which is ideal for divers,” he notes. “The water there is much clearer than the water further up the coast, so it will be a very nice reef complex and dive site once it is finished, which should be August 2012.”
Dellapenna is no stranger to such work. He’s worked on several other reef improvement projects, including the Salt Reef and the Basco Reef, both located near Port Arthur.
“Reef systems always make an underwater area better,” he adds. “They help marine life thrive and greatly help fishery habitats, plus they provide new recreational benefits for thousands of Texas marine enthusiasts.”
The Texas legislature passed the Artificial Reef Act of 1989 to develop a network of artificial reefs off the Texas coast. To date, 26 artificial reef sites have been established to benefit marine environments. For more about the Texas Parks and Wildlife reef program, go to http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/landwater/water/habitats/artificial_reef/.
About Research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world’s leading research institutions, Texas A&M is in the vanguard in making significant contributions to the storehouse of knowledge, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represents an annual investment of more than $630 million, which ranks third nationally for universities without a medical school, and underwrites approximately 3,500 sponsored projects. That research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic benefits to the state, nation and world.