By Craig Nyhus

Last year, Lone Star Outdoor News wrote about an effort headed by several Rio Grande Valley individuals to establish a nearshore reef off of South Padre Island. The reef would serve as a location that does more than attract adult fish, but would be a true brood location where red snapper may be born and live to adulthood.

After more than two years of work at a hectic pace, last week two ships were dropped to the ocean floor.

“We sunk the Gulf Explorer, a shrimp boat and The Sting, a tug boat,” Bob Glick, of Pharr, said.

While the ships were relatively easy to sink on the calm and perfect day, the effort to get to that point was substantial.

“We got permitted in 16 months, and it usually takes three years,” Glick said. “The Coast Guard had to prove the vessels were seaworthy, etc.”

Daniel Bryant of Bryant Industrial Services worked to “make ready” the vessels.

“We cleaned them up, and basically anything that’s not steel needs to come off of the boat,” Bryant said.

The goal of the reef supporters was to get ships in place on the 1,600-acre reef this year.

The reef is approximately 7 miles offshore and it’s 14 miles from the jetties to the shrimp boat. Protection of fish from juvenile to adult is the goal of the project, as well as serving as a model for future reefs.

The concept is based on the notion that red snapper juvenile survival is primarily habitat limited, and the fish need the right size hide-holes and rocks for avoiding predation. Then, the size of the material graduates up to accommodate the main 2-year growth cycle of snapper.