Texas Parks & Wildlife are Making an Artificial Reef Habitat

The goal is to create a diverse habitat for marine life and a fun spot for divers.

By Anna CaseyJune 10, 2016 9:39 am

The Kraken &bdash; the great sea monster-sized squid – is the stuff of legends. But if you’re from Texas, it means something different.

It’s a large container ship, one of hundreds of out-of-commission vessels and oil platforms acquired by Texas Parks and Wildlife for the purposes of sinking to create an artificial reef.

The Kraken is a 370-foot cargo vessel, formerly known as the SCM Fedra. It weighs 6,000 tons and will be sunk into the Texas Gulf. The project has been funded in part with money that flowed to Texas after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

Parks and Wildlife has been backing this program since the 1970s when they reefed 12 liberty ships. In 2007, they sunk the Texas Clipper off of South Padre Island. A few years ago they added another artificial reef near Corpus Christi. The state has 66 artificial reefs offshore so far.

The Kraken will be the latest addition.

Dale Shively, director of the project, says the mission is to create, enhance and preserve marine habitat in the Gulf of Mexico. They also want to provide fishing and diving opportunities.

“This is a great opportunity to take a ship, clean it up, have it reefed in an upright position and create a diving attraction – in addition to marine habitat,” Shively says.

To make an artificial reef, the environment needs to be stable, complex and durable – a ship is all these things, Shively says.

Maintaining these reefs isn’t cheap. Shively says the state spends about $1 million per year in research and science monitoring.

“We’re really interested in not only putting material out there, but what is happening to the material,” he says. “Are we doing it correctly? Is it an efficient use of funds to do this?”

Once the Kraken is submerged, Shively says we’ll begin to see invertebrates settle on the ship and start to grow and reproduce. Then will come snappers, triggerfish, barracuda, amberjacks and even a sea turtle or two.

Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.

Prepared for web by Beth Cortez-Neavel.