Alabama Reefs Welcome Divers
Alabama may have only 53 miles of Gulf shoreline, but offshore, it has thousands of artificial reefs that have earned it a reputation as the red snapper capital of the Gulf of Mexico.
Average size? 10 pounds. These artificial reefs are also helping Alabama strengthen its
reputation as a saltwater scuba diving destination. Divers often prefer sites that are not so far and not so deep. Alabama has those too. One is a 271-foot coastal freighter scuttled in about 100 feet of water 20 miles south of Orange Beach.
Nicknamed Lulu (aka freighter Youkamu), it rests upright so scuba divers can start exploring just 50 feet below the surface. Another is Poseidon’s Playground that is three miles offshore in just 38 feet of water. It features statues of Greek gods Poseidon, Apollo, and Venus. It is even promoted as a wedding site, although reciting vows and kissing your new spouse while wearing goggles could be a bit awkward.
Reef Foundation President Vince Lucido said the new diving reef was the brainchild of local scuba instructor Lila Harris, who wanted to establish something closer to shore that’s accessible for younger divers and other beginners. The reef’s depth is about 38 feet, and 40 is the limit for novice divers.
The foundation aims to involve local artists, schools, organizations, and others. A reef could celebrate someone’s life.
The Alabama Gulf Coast Reef and Restoration Foundation played a major role in securing both sites and others. Another popular spot, especially for snorkeling, is Whiskey Wreck, an old steel-hulled vessel just 150 feet from Bahama Bob’s Beach Side Café in Gulf Shores.
There are more artificial reefs in deeper water, and their hard surface ecosystems support
abundant marine life, including Alabama’s big red snapper. By the way, Alabama’s 2019 red snapper season starts June 1st.
For more information and coordinates of most inshore and offshore reefs, go to outdooralabama.com/sites
By Bill Aucoin, Southern Boating May 2019
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