The largest reef in the permitted region was established last month off the coast of Ponte Vedra, and it's called "Starship."
Joe Kistel, the project manager/regional coordinator who works for an organization called TISIRI, said the reef project was initiated by the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA).
"(CCA) wanted to do a project in Jacksonville," Kistel noted. "They got myself and my team involved in the project since we're familiar with it."
Kistel said the process began well over a year ago by finding the materials and picking and vetting a location. Today, the Starship reef sits 12-miles east of Ponte Vedra.
The two biggest benefits of the reef, Kistel noted, is that it creates an environment for recreational use and it positively impacts the surrounding natural habitat. The reef is a great spot for fishermen and scuba divers, Kistel asserted. Additionally, people can use the reef to catch fish, take photos and enjoy the oceanic environment.
"There's also a huge environmental part of it," the project manager explained. "By placing the reef offshore, it becomes incrusted with life forms that otherwise could not grow on a sandy substrate there. So you get corals, sponges and algae, the species list goes on and on."
By placing the structure in the water and allotting a period of time for it to blossom into a full-fledged habitat, Kistel said it’s possible for an underwater oasis to form that will provide resources for a diverse population of marine life. Starship, which is made from recycled material, provides a structure for a sustaining ecosystem and a home for organisms to grow and evolve.
“The organisms that grow and the fish that reside at these reefs, they breed as well," Kistel noted. "It's a pretty interesting thing that could be created just from using recycled material."
According to TISIRI's official website, the Starship project was made possible thanks to: CCA, Shell, Lamb's Yacht Center, Gate Precast, Dames Point Workboat and other individuals. For more information on TISIRI, visit www.tisiri.org.