Marine

Rhode Island’s First Artificial Reef Sunk Off East Providence

Specialty Diving transported the 64 reef balls via barge from Quonset Point to Sabin Point. (TNC)

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The mayor, a slew of media members, and a group of residents celebrating a birthday — complete with cake and party hats — gathered Oct. 24 at Sabin’s Point to watch not one, but 64 balls, drop.

But unlike the ball drop to kickoff the New Year, these balls are more like mounds, flat on the bottom, made of concrete and silica, are 3 feet high, and have large holes gouging their surfaces. Their purpose: bring sport fish to Sabin’s Point.

These concrete balls will create an artificial reef, the first of its kind in Rhode Island, as a result of a partnership between The Nature Conservancy and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM).

“Part of this work began four years ago when DEM and The Nature Conservancy partnered up to start monitoring the upper bay, and through this we decided this location would be good for fish enhancement since it has access to fish by shore, not just by boat,” said Patrick Barrett, a DEM fisheries specialist. “The money used for this was raised and provided by taxes on fishing gear, so we’re trying to give back to the community.”

Many sport fish, specifically tautog, scup, and sea bass, like structured spaces, and, according to Tim Mooney of The Nature Conservancy, the reefs will allow minnows the security to grow into adulthood.

“The reefs should attract these fish and we’re hoping that it will increase their survival rate,” he said.

As part of the installation, DEM and The Nature Conservancy will monitor the progress in this location against other areas in the bay.

“We will be monitoring this area once a month, and every fall we’ll probably dive the reef as well,” Barrett said. “We’re interested to see what happens.”

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  1. The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers also played a significant roll in providing a substantial grant to this effort also.

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