Iconic House Boat Becomes a Thriving Artificial Reef
Updated Dec 14, 2019 | Posted Jun 14, 2019
Dolphin Tale House Boat Is Now Part of Artificial Reef System
On Wednesday, April 24, 2019, part of Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s iconic house boat, home to Harry Connick Jr.’s character in the Dolphin Tale movies, was transformed into a marine life habitat as part of an artificial reef system in the Gulf of Mexico.
The house boat was featured in the Dolphin Tale films and was an iconic movie prop at Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
The barge of the movie prop was professionally placed 10 miles off Clearwater Beach as a contribution to Rube Allyn Reef in Pinellas County’s artificial reef system. According to Pinellas County’s Artificial Reef Guide, “an artificial reef is a man-made, underwater structure built to promote marine life.” The barge was constructed from environmentally-safe material and, therefore, was identified as an ideal structure to support an artificial reef.
Barracuda swimming through sunken barge structure.
The reef is part of Pinellas County’s inshore reef project, an environmentally sensitive coastal enhancement program designed to replace natural hard bottom habitats impacted by beach restoration projects. Aside from providing habitats for sea life, the purpose of these reefs is to divert clean usable materials from the waste stream and boost tourism and the local economy by enhancing fishing and diving attractions.
Amberjack swimming by artificial reef.
Development Into an Underwater Sanctuary for Marine Life
Since the initial placement, Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s Dive Team has revisited the artificial reef to monitor and document its progress. Algae and barnacles have attached to the artificial reef material as of May 10, attracting an array of fish species including barracuda, hogfish, greater amberjacks, and more. Despite the newness of the reef, the barge has already become a feeding ground for sea creatures and a valuable underwater sanctuary for marine life.
The CMA Dive Team will assist Pinellas County with monitoring and maintaining the reef, and will conduct open ocean underwater research around the barge to continue our marine life conservation efforts. With time and hard work, we hope to see this reef flourish into a valuable marine habitat here in Clearwater, FL. Check back soon for more updates on the artificial reef’s progress!
CMA diver monitoring the artificial reef site.
For more information about Pinellas County’s artificial reef program, including the GPS coordinates for the Rube Allyn Reef and other reef sites, visit pinellascounty.org/reef.
December 2019 The team saw algae and soft coral growth. Ther was also a large variety of fish species was active throughout the reef.
July 2019 Goliath grouper were observed at the artificial reef site.