Artificial Reefs

About this project

Man-made structures in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico make up the largest artificial reef complex in the world. During the last few decades, artificial reef development has increasingly been undertaken as a way to create new habitat, increase fishery production and promote activities like fishing and diving. The Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation (CSSC) is working to determine how structure type and location of artificial reef materials can influence the surrounding fish communities.

Currently, the CSSC assesses artificial reefs and other offshore habitats through the use of SCUBA, remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and vertical line surveys. This project allows us to make comparisons of fish diversity, distribution and abundance between artificial reefs, standing oil and gas platforms and the natural banks of the Coastal Bend, and to understand how different habitat types might affect the growth and reproduction of recreationally and commercially important species. Additionally, the CSSC is gathering baseline data to better understand the underwater life on newly created nearshore reefs.

Research Objectives

  • To conduct a thorough and rigorous monitoring program for TPWD artificial reefs thru the use of SCUBA, Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), and Vertical Line surveys.
  • To compare fish diversity, distribution and abundance differences between artificial reefs, standing oil and gas platforms, and natural banks of the Texas Coastal Bend (see map for sampling locations)
  • To better understand how different habitat types may influence the growth and reproductive potential of recreationally and commercially important species.
  • To assess baseline assessments of newly reefed sites including nearshore (MU-775) sites and those farther offshore (PN-A-42).