It’s not every day you see artificial reef modules staged on the docks at the Port of Palm Beach. In fact, the last time Heavy Lift Services took on a project like this was last August when 18 mermaid sculptures arrived at the Port.
“These artistic and innovative sculpture reef designs weigh anywhere from 1700 to 3500 pounds. Luckily, we have the capability and experience to safely move them around without damaging the modules,” said Joey Dias, third-generation stevedore with Heavy Lift Services.
This time around, the stevedore company safely handled 55 artificial reef modules that were transported to the reef site located 25 feet off the north end of Palm Beach.
“The Port is very close to our reef site, thankfully. It is about a 10- minute boat ride out from the Port so that really helps with logistics of deployments at the site. Also, the Port has the acreage necessary to be able to put the modules onto the barge and then be able to deploy with the contractor” said Stacy Brown, CFO of 1000 Mermaids Project.
The deployment by the 1000 Mermaids Artificial Reef Project, in partnership with Palm Beach County’s Department of Environmental Resource Management, Reefcells.com and the newly founded Ocean Rescue Alliance, will grow the existing diving and eco-tourism destination from 18 artificial reef modules to over 55.
The sculptures are made of limestone and concrete. The materials are donated by the builder himself, Chris O’Hare.
“The art sparks the interest of divers and snorkelers, while the material creates additional habitat for fish and benthic marine life that are a source of food for bottom feeding animals and a indicator of good water quality,” said Jena McNeal. Senior Environmental Analyst and Artificial Reef Coordinator for Palm Beach County’s Department of Environmental Resource Management.
Of the 55 modules. two were built by an Eagle Scouts group, one was made by 60 Palm Beach State College students and there was a memorial reef for a fallen firefighter, Kevin Mehaffey, who was an avid diver.
On the day the modules were placed on the seafloor, Heavy Lift Services spoke with a local television station about its role in the project.