OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) – A 62.5-foot tug deployed August 23 brings the total number of artificial reef vessels off Destin and the coast of Fort Walton Beach to 33. Alex Fogg of the Coastal Resource Management team said he plans to have seven more reefs in the water by the end of 2022.
MISS NELLIE is a decommissioned tug manufactured in 1982. Inland Construction and Engineering in Panama City, Florida donated the vessel to the county in the spring of 2022.
The tug landed upright after descending 112 feet below the surface on Tuesday. Mike Norberg of the Coastal Resource Management Team said the boat will provide excellent fishing habitat and snorkeling views.
Crews worked to scrub and remove anything non-metal from the boat. Fogg said fuels, oils, plastics and anything unnatural were removed before deployment.
Okaloosa County worked alongside Inland Construction and Engineering and Tug and Barge Solutions to contract the new reef.
MISS NELLIE is located at 30° 07.915, -86° 17.517. It is about 21 nautical miles southeast of Destin East Pass. A list of all ships 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 fish species of recreational and commercial importance as well as places to visit for divers and anglers.”
Alex Fogg, Coastal Resource Management Team
County said a 3D model of MISS NELLIE is being prepared by Reef Smart Guides for those exploring online. A 3D model of the “shipyard” project is also in progress. Fogg said those completion times are unknown.
Fogg said seven more reefs are planned before the end of the year. Norberg said these vessels are in various stages of cleaning and will be announced at a later date.