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Artificial reef domes placed in Galveston Bay
TPWD and Galveston Bay Foundation collaborative project benefits fish, oysters and more
HOUSTON – Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recently enhanced one of its oyster restoration projects in East Galveston Bay with the addition of 59 concrete artificial reef domes donated by Galveston Bay Foundation.
The artificial reef domes were placed on a 1-acre patch of restored oyster reef in East Galveston Bay (approximate center point 29° 30’ 44”, -94° 39’ 54”). Each dome was individually placed on the site using a crane on a construction barge. Care was taken to ensure that the domes were not stacked on each other so that water depth over the site would be maintained at safe levels for small craft navigation. The domes will be used to attract fish and oyster larvae and will facilitate studies on oyster density and fish utilization.
The department’s artificial reef program has enjoyed tremendous success placing large reef domes in the Gulf over the past 15 years. Dale Shively, Artificial Reef Program Director, notes that there was a marked increase in the number of fish after the placement of the reef domes. Though smaller than the large artificial reef dome structures in the Gulf, the reef domes in Galveston Bay may also attract large game fish.
Reef domes have been used in several areas affected by natural disasters to encourage marine life to resettle. Likewise, this project is part of ongoing efforts to restore oyster reef habitats which were severely impacted by Hurricane Ike-induced sedimentation in September 2008. The 1-acre site is part of a larger 25-acre research reef where different oyster reef designs and materials will be evaluated for use in other parts of the bay and in other bay systems along the Texas coast.
TPWD has restored approximately 200 acres of oyster reef in Galveston Bay. These domes are an integral part of the department’s continuing research efforts on finding the best methods for oyster reef restoration and increasing and improving fish habitats.
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