Wednesday, January 6, 2021
– No Shoes Reefs, a grassroots organization committed to creating healthier oceans and spearheaded by Kenny Chesney, joined forces with Florida conservation groups to create a reef off the Florida Atlantic coast.
The group collaborated with Coastal Conservation Association Florida (CCA Florida), Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management, Sandoway Discovery Center, Reef Ball Foundation, Building Conservation Trust and Global SubDive to deploy 13 10,000-pound goliath reef balls, about one-half mile off Delray Beach, creating "No Shoes Reefs 4."
This kicks off development for a 32-acre underwater reef park.
Global SubDive's Go America vessel dropped the six-by-seven foot balls, donated by No Shoes Reefs and Reef Ball Foundation, in the Delray Dredge Hole, the pre-permitted artificial reef site roughly .35-mile long by .13-mile wide.
No Shoes Reefs 4 takes its name from the reef's four partners – and will provide long-term educational opportunities for the students of Palm Beach County through the Sandoway Discover Center's ongoing educational programs. These educational opportunities will necessitate an ongoing reef monitoring program.
"No Shoes Reefs is an extension of how I have tried to live for many, many years," said Chesney. "Love the water, give back to the water. Many people don't realize both how fragile and resilient the ocean's ecosystems are, and I think it's the small projects that raise awareness on local levels that help people understand the ocean is a living thing. Our partners have been so tireless in terms of raising money, awareness and doing the actual work, and it's a wonderful way to build the No Shoes Nation community of people who care about the ocean, the beach and our whole way of life."
This deployment will create a foundation for natural habitat development and provide divers the chance to explore dozens of future underwater acreages.
"Improving and creating sustainable fisheries and protecting Florida's marine environment is CCA Florida's lifeblood," CCA Florida Director of Habitat and Environmental Restoration Frank Gidus said. "We're honored to be part of this reef project and partner with No Shoes Reef, as it's a symbiotic relationship sharing the same goal – to improve our coastal environments and waterways for today and for generations to come."
Artificial reefs initiate the development of natural, thriving habitats for various species of fish, invertebrates and other marine life, such as smaller organisms that are vital food sources for other marine species, with the overall goal to create an ever-evolving ecosystem while enhancing fisheries, improving water quality and providing new opportunities for local anglers.
No Shoes Reefs and Reef Ball Foundation donated the 13 reef balls along with four flatbed trailers to transport the Go America vessel. Funds were secured from proceeds of eco-friendly No Shoes Reefs products with partners Deep Apprel, SiliPint and RePatriot Flag. Additionally, CCA Florida secured funding from IMPACT100 Palm Beach County, earning a merit award in the Environment and Animal Welfare category and receiving $13,000 during the 2020 Grand Awards.