Destin uses donated 93 ft. Air Force Ship for new Artificial Reef

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DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — Artificial reefs are not only used for activities like fishing or snorkeling but serve a bigger purpose by providing and stabilizing habitats for all types of sea life. 

Destin is one of the top spots in the country for these artificial reefs and they recently installed a new one which they hope will make a bigger impact than any others than before.

The “BIG DAWG” is a 93-foot U.S. Air Force steel-hull water training vessel that was sunk to the seafloor in 104 feet of water, 14 miles southwest of the Destin Pass.

Okaloosa County Coastal Resources Manager Alex Fogg says, “We started the process back of June of last year and hired a contractor. It took them months to clean this vessel to pull all the wood out, all the hydraulics out, all the plastics and wood so this thing would be suitable as an artificial reef and safe for the environment.”  

Not only did it take months and months of preparation they also had to sink it in the perfect spot.

Fogg says, “When you deploy these vessels, you want them to land upright so its a cool site for people to dive and has the maximum amount of relief to have some of the more diverse species of fish people would like to fish for.”

They have released hundreds of new vessels in the past few years, but Fogg tells WKRG this one is the biggest he’s been a part of and is excited for the community to experience it for themselves.

“They are not only great for the fish to have a home or live in forage, but its great for divers, for fisherman so we really try and check the box for all those things,” Fogg said.

They have made it their mission to install as many of the artificial reefs as they can, especially in the Destin area.

“In northwest Florida, we lack the natural habitat that some of the other parts of the state of Florida or other parts of the country have, so we need to put things out there to attract and produce marine life.”

They will be sinking another reef in a month. For the full list of artificial reefs in Destin, click here.

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