SWARA Brings Dolphin Reef to Miramar Beach
A strange-looking barge is doing some very interesting work in South Walton, but anyone who notices it should be excited, not alarmed!
It’s part of the effort to create an underwater habitat for marine life, courtesy of the South Walton Artificial Reef Association (SWARA). The non-profit organization is currently in the process of deploying dive/snorkel reefs throughout Walton County.
SWARA recently completed a snorkel reef in Miramar Beach that's shaped like a dolphin, and is the first to join the turtle-shaped reef already in place offshore at Grayton Beach, as well as a seahorse-shaped snorkel reef off the beach in Topsail Hill. Still to come is a cobia-shaped snorkel reef in the waters south of Inlet Beach. Each snorkel reef has 75-100 towers per location and will be located about 200 yards off the beach.
Twelve additional dive reefs will also be constructed – 9 of them will be near-shore fish/dive reefs located about 2/3 miles off the beach and in about 60 feet of water. The other 3 are classified as fish havens/reef sights and will be located 3-7 miles offshore in about 80 feet of water.
The snorkel reefs are close enough to the shore that they can be reached by kayak or paddleboard, so snorkelers or divers can access them from the beach, while SWARA’s off-shore reefs are the perfect destination for SCUBA divers to explore via a charter boat in Walton County.
“We wanted to do something that would have both an ecological and economic impact in the community,” says Andy McAlexander, a SWARA board member and lifelong SCUBA diver. “We’re already seeing people come here to dive the reefs, which is cool.”
Given our sugar-white sands and turquoise waters, not to mention 200-plus miles of hiking and biking trails and rare coastal dune lakes, South Walton is an outdoorsman’s paradise. The addition of SWARA’s snorkel and dive reefs only enhances the community and gives our locals and visitors another opportunity to enjoy our unspoiled natural beauty.