The idea behind the Mini Reef is to improve the ecosystem for marine life.
Residents and leaders of the Longboat Harbor Condominium watched on Friday afternoon as 12 Mini Reefs were installed on docks throughout the complex, designed to attract marine life and naturally filter the surrounding water.
Ocean Habitat Inc. executive director David Wolff said the Mini Reefs try to replicate the marine-life benefits that Florida mangroves typically provide. However, many mangroves have been uprooted and cut down because of development.
“The community is full of docks, and while mangroves can’t grow underneath the docks, these [Mini-Reef] units can go underneath there,” Wolff said. “It’s complete wasted space and we bring [the mini-reefs] and make it productive.”
The mangroves served as protective habitats for marine life, from tiny organisms to juvenile game fish and more.
“This is a band-aid solution for a manmade problem,” Wolff said. “This doesn't replace the grasses and mangroves, but we can’t plant mangroves right here.”
Each Mini Reef is about 3 feet wide, 2 feet deep and 2 feet tall. Each device costs $297.
Wolff estimated each Mini Reef can attract enough marine life to filter about 30,000 gallons of water per day. He also said his company makes different sized reefs depending on the size of the dock.
Solutions To Avoid Red Tide CEO Sandy Gilbert helped coordinate Friday’s installation. By working with START, Gilbert said the condominium does not have to pay tax and the $125 installation cost is waived.
“They start out as you'll see this sort of a frame with shelves made out of polypropylene,” Gilbert said. “What they do is attract sea life that is already here.”
Friday marked the second time the Longboat Harbor Condominium had Mini Reefs installed at the complex, condo President Bill Coughlin said.
“The Yacht Club is buying 10 and two residents said they would like to buy one as well,” Coughlin said.
Coughlin said he hopes other places throughout Longboat Key decide to install the Mini Reefs, including other condominiums in the area.
“This would help to promote START and it would help promote this concept of the [Mini Reefs at the] docks because anyone who has seen the concept of the docks, how could you not like it?” Coughlin said.
Ocean Habitat and START also worked together when installing 10 of the devices underneath the docks at MarVista Dockside Restaurant.
Gilbert also said he has had discussions with other condominium complexes about installing Mini Reefs.
“We’re working with Ocean Habitats to put in these mini-reefs in a lot of places,” Gilbert said. “People that have them just love them.”