Artificial reefs plunge into Sarasota Bay

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SARASOTA - Think of a underwater reef: colorful coral, thousands of fish, and now giant pieces of concrete.  Believe it or not, those are the foundations of what could become another thriving ecosystem at the bottom of Sarasota Bay.

"I think its cool that your help rebuilding ecosystems," said Chris Emmer, a Riverview High School student helping with the project.

At least some of the some of the concrete structures, also known as reef balls, would not have been taking the plunge Wednesday morning without the help of some up and coming Riverview scientists.

"I think it's a very good idea and a cool concept that we bring them out here to help out the reef and to provide homes for all the fish out here," said Jonathan Cain, another student.

Students from the school's marine biology program have been studying the bay's ecosystem all year. They were on hand Wednesday as the artificial reef foundations were lowered into the bay.

"I just love to be underwater and to be on the water so to go under and help out, to see all the fish that she taught us about last year and everything and to help out the environment is interesting to me," said Cain.

The reef balls are being used to expand on some of the bay's already established artificial reefs.

And with some of these orbs topping out at more than four hundred pounds, they're made to last.

"They are heavy enough to prevent being moved in storms, they're low enough to provide for navigation above them," said Dr. Jay Leverone, who works with the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program.

Emmer will start building his own life this fall as he heads off to USF. But for now he's helping build another life; the one that today sits beneath the waves.

"It's kind of satisfying knowing that it's going to last and actually makes a difference," said Emmer.