The University of West Florida Center for Environmental Diagnostics and Bioremediation, in collaboration with the University of South Alabama and Dauphin Island Sea Lab, was recently awarded a $293,992 grant for artificial reef research.
Funds were granted by the Florida Institute of Oceanography Center of Excellence through the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund, established by the 2012 RESTORE Act in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The center’s project is among only 10 selected out of 47 proposals. Research will focus on evaluating the role of artificial reefs as hotspots of biological productivity.
“When people go to artificial reefs, they see all of this incredible, diverse marine life on the reefs. The assumption is that there is more productivity,” said Dr. Jane Caffrey, CEDB and UWF biology professor. “But that has never been tested in this area. We need to actually collect the data. We can’t just go by appearances; we need hard numbers.”
Caffrey will lead the research with Dr. Will Patterson of USA and Dauphin Island Sea Lab, as well as Robert Turpin of Escambia County Marine Resources Division. The team aims to provide a better understanding of Northwest Florida’s artificial reefs and shallow coastal environments by studying the fish population and communicating its findings to the local fishing and diving community.
We interviewed Dr. Caffrey on “Pensacola Speaks” on Friday afternoon.