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Siesta Key neighborhood may soon get mini reefs

Siesta Key residents hope to show the successes of mini reefs so the county will allow similar structures in the Grand Canal.

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  • | 9:30 a.m. January 14, 2020
David Wolff prepares to submerge 10 mini reefs at Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant. Eric Garwood
David Wolff prepares to submerge 10 mini reefs at Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant. Eric Garwood
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Editor's note: The cost of a mini reef is $297 with a $150 installation fee. A previous version of this story stated otherwise. 

Because of fish kills, sewage spills and a lack of water flow, Siesta Key residents who live along the Grand Canal have been unhappy.

However, one group of residents is hoping to change that with mini reefs that can be placed under residents’ docks.

The reefs are 2 feet wide by 3 feet tall, with four shelves to attract sea life. They are billed to have a filtering capacity of about 30,000 gallons of water every day and cost $297 each with a $150 installation fee through Ocean Habitats Inc. If a person wishes to install the reefs themself, the shipping cost is $37. 

Many residents who live near the Grand Canal are hoping to place the devices under their personal docks. However, county code doesn’t allow for them.

The city code does, though, and many residents within the Bay Isles neighborhood have volunteered to install them under their docks. They are hoping to prove the reefs are a way to filter water and attract marine life.

“I think these would be absolutely wonderful,” Bay Isles resident Amy Ferrell said. “We’ve got plenty of fish and dolphins and manatee that come into our bayou, and I think we’d be a logical place to get started and help with this mini-reef issue.”

Solutions to Avoid Red Tide CEO Sandy Gilbert and Sarasota Bay Fisheries Forum member Phil Chicocchio are working to set up reefs on the north end of the Key, Siesta Key Association President Catherine Luckner said.

“We are hoping to do this small project on the north end and then present its successes to the county in the hopes we can get a project started in the canal,” she said.

Other proposed suggestions to help the Grand Canal include dredging the canal’s only opening at Roberts Bay to improve tidal flushing and adding fountain-like devices to the canal to help aerate the water.


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