OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — A 62.5-foot tug boat deployed on Aug. 23 brings the total artificial reef vessels off Destin and Fort Walton Beach coast to 33. Alex Fogg with the Coastal Resource Management Team said they plan to have seven more reefs in the water by the end of 2022.
MISS NELLIE is a decommissioned tugboat made in 1982. Inland Construction and Engineering in Panama City, Fla. donated the vessel to the county in the Spring of 2022.
The tugboat landed upright after its 112-foot descent below the surface Tuesday. Mike Norberg with the Coastal Resource Management Team said the boat will provide an excellent fishing habitat and dive sight.
Crews worked to scrub and remove everything that was not metal from the boat. Fogg said fuels, oils, plastics and everything non-natural were cleared out before deployment.
Okaloosa County worked alongside Inland Construction and Engineering and Tug and Barge Solutions to contract the new reef.
MISS NELLIE can be found at 30° 07.915, -86° 17.517. That is about 21 nautical miles southeast of the Destin East Pass. A list of all vessels and artificial reefs can be found here. In total, Fogg said there are more than 400 reef sites in the Okaloosa County area of the Gulf of Mexico.
Why do we need more artificial reefs?
“Provide habitat for recreationally and commercially important species of fish as well as locations for divers and fishermen to visit.”Alex Fogg, Coastal Resource Management Team
The county said a 3D model of MISS NELLIE is in the works by Reef Smart Guides for those to explore online. A 3D model for the ‘boatyard’ project is also underway. Fogg said those completion timelines are unknown.
Fogg said seven more reefs are planned before the year is up. Norberg said those vessels are in different stages of cleaning and will be announced at a later date.