The TCPalm.com Network  Classifieds Autos Employment Real Estate Archives TC Business Journal 50 Plus 
 The News The Tribune Press Journal Jupiter Courier Sebastian Sun WPTV
THE TCPALM NETWORK
The Stuart News and
  Port St. Lucie News

Fort Pierce Tribune
The Press Journal
The Jupiter Courier

Sebastian Sun
WPTV NewsChannel 5

NEWS
Nation & World
Florida
Obituaries
Weather
Hurricane
Special Reports
Photo Galleries
Polls
Palm Beach News
Lottery Numbers
Corrections

BUSINESS
Local Business
TC Business Journal

SPORTS
Prep Sports
Football
Baseball
Golf
Outdoors/Fishing
Live Scores

FEATURES
Living
Travel
Health & Wellness

ENTERTAINMENT
Movies
Music
TV/Radio
Stage
Food & Dining

COLUMNISTS
Ray McNulty
Bill DeYoung
Bob Betcher
Joe Crankshaw
Anthony Westbury
Ben Becker

SITE TOOLS
Subscribe
About Us
Contact Us
Customer Service
Advertising Info
Help/FAQ
Photo Reprints
Job Opportunities
Site Map
Web Tools

EXTRAS
Archives
Contests
Set Your Home Page
Link to Us
Submit Story Idea
Syndicate Our Site
Postcards
Web Cams
Forums
Chats
 

Legal Resource Center
Florida Fairways
All Things Real Estate
Find Your New Florida Home.
Search for homes by price or location and by community, builder or model.
Listings from Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach Counties.

Indian River County students' 'reef balls' finally hit sea floor

Hurricanes delayed the sinking of the concrete habitats for marine life.

By Henry A. Stephens
staff writer

July 27, 2005

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY As dozens of people gathered on Castaway Cove's stretch of beach Tuesday and waited to see space shuttle Discovery, Vero Beach High School teacher Sue DeBlois' gaze was fixed nearby on the tugboat Molly.

The tugboat, owned by McCulley Marine Services of Fort Pierce, was about to lower a series of concrete "reef balls," made by DeBlois' environmental-science students in March 2004, into the ocean about 300 yards from shore.

DeBlois and some colleagues watched from the Hana Ho, a powerboat owned by her friend, Vero Beach general contractor Bob Hickerson.

"Ready," came a voice on the Molly's loudspeaker.

Then with a hoist from the winch and a shove from a crewman's foot, the first reef ball slid off the Molly's stern. The winch lowered it about 17 feet to the sandy bottom below, where fish, lobsters and other creatures are expected to find a cozy home in the hole-pocked reef balls.

"It's actually happening," DeBlois said. "I was thinking this would just be a wonderful idea that wasn't going to be like we'd made 25 huge paperweights."

The reef balls were expected to be placed by the fall of 2004, but hurricanes Frances and Jeanne delayed the project.

Each reef ball is a concrete dome shape, weighing about 3,500 pounds and measuring 6 feet wide by 4 1/2 feet high, full of holes for fish and other creatures to inhabit.

After a few hours Tuesday, the Molly had lowered nine reef balls. The Molly and her sister tug, Regina T, laden with eight reef balls, then returned to dock in Fort Pierce.

Both tugs rode a 3-foot swell and the crews didn't want to risk the Regina transferring more reef balls to the Molly for a second series of drops.

"It was too rough," said John "Boo" McCulley, president of McCulley Marine Services. "We didn't want the chance of banging the reef balls together."

He said the Molly would return today and try to get the remaining 16 lowered.

DeBlois and Hickerson started planning the reef ball project in January 2004 for a class exercise. DeBlois said Hickerson helped her get the cement donated by Rinker Materials' Vero Beach plant .

"When Sue told me she was going to do this with high-school students, and nobody had previous construction experience, I said, 'This girl needs help and doesn't know how to ask me for it,'" Hickerson recalled with a chuckle.

DeBlois said she said she wished the students who had made the reef balls could be aboard with her to see them being lowered. But two classes have graduated from the high school since then.

"They've moved on," she said.

The reef balls, however, are here to stay. DeBlois said they are expected to last 500 years.

- henry.stephens@scripps.com

Comments   Trackbacks



Get Copyright Clearance Copyright 2005, Scripps Treasure Coast Publishing Co.
Click for permission to reprint


TCPalm Google
Jobs Homes
Cars Marketplace
Classified
Newspaper Ads
 

Site Extras



The E.W. Scripps Co.

2005 Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers. Site Users are subject to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement.
TCPalm.com traffic is audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulations. View .
Other E.W. Scripps Web sites: HGTV | Food Network | Do-It-Yourself Network | Fine Living
| Subscribe | Site Tools
XML