Staff Report – For The Record

PORT O’CONNOR — A 381-acre artificial reef planned for the Gulf of Mexico off the Texas coast will include pyramid-style concrete structures friendly to fish.

The site 6 miles from the Port O’Connor jetties will be home to the largest artificial reef ever placed in Texas waters. It will be the first of a series of artificial reefs the Parks and Wildlife Department aims to build along the Gulf coast.

The “Keeping It Wild Reef” is a $1 million project of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, an affiliated foundation and Coastal Conservation Association Texas. It’s expected to be in place in 2017.

Chris Ledford, an artificial reef program specialist with the Parks and Wildlife Department, said the concrete pyramids will be 10 feet wide on each side and 8 feet high. About 500 pyramids will be included in the reef.

Round holes on the sides will make the interiors accessible to small fish, and a large triangle opening will allow turtles to escape the structures. The artificial reef will also provide hard surfaces for barnacles and clams to latch onto and grow.

The reef will be the largest ever placed in Texas waters because decks from two derelict petroleum platforms in the area will be removed, leaving the bare metal legs of the structure. The platforms will be placed on their sides or their top parts will be cut off. If the top parts of the structure are cut off, they can be placed in the water to create more reef material.

The department is still waiting on some permits for the future project in other areas of the Texas Gulf Coast.