Celebrate marine life beneath the surface in Ponce Inlet

By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

PONCE INLET, Fla. -- Volusia County and partners will celebrate marine life and recreation from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 11 and 12 at Down the Hatch Restaurant and Marina, 4877 Front St., Ponce Inlet.

Attendees can view the Tug Everglades, a 90-foot steel tugboat, and climb aboard the Lady Philomena, a 150-foot steel cargo ship, for an in-depth tour. Guests should wear sensible shoes as tours will involve navigating ladders and uneven surfaces.

County staff will provide information about the county’s growing reef program, turtle rehabilitation, conservation efforts and coastal parks. Human resources staff will share information about county job opportunities.

"Coastal Conservation Association Florida, Building Conservation Trust and Yamaha — all financial supporters of the sinking of the Lady Philomena and reef project — will be on hand to discuss the benefits of artificial reef systems," Kate Salk, a county spokeswoman, told Headline Surfer.

"Coastal Conservation Association Florida, Building Conservation Trust and Yamaha — all financial supporters of the sinking of the Lady Philomena (shown above) and reef project — will be on hand to discuss the benefits of artificial reef systems," Kate Salk, a county spokeswoman, told Headline Surfer. 

Other exhibitors include Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, and Halifax Sport Fishing Club. 

The Lady Philomena, a 150-foot steel vessel, was donated to the county for reefing by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service after having been seized with contraband in the Miami River. The Tug Everglades, a 90-foot steel tugboat, was then offered to the county for reefing by the shipyard where the Lady Philomena was moored.

Pending weather conditions, the county will sink the Lady Philomena and the Tug Everglades between Nov. 13 and 19 at artificial reef site 12, located about nine miles offshore the Ponce de Leon Inlet in 80 feet of water.
The sunken vessels will join an extensive underwater artificial reef community composed of multiple half-acre piles of clean concrete culverts, structures and massive concrete bridge components that have been carefully deployed on the seafloor. The living marine habitat teems with fish, shrimp and crabs and supporting recreational and charter fishing and diving.

The county’s artificial reef program has been around since the 1970s. 

With involvement from the Ponce de Leon Inlet and Port District, more than 148 artificial reefs have been constructed with the remains of ships, barges, concrete culverts, airplanes, bridges, FDOT concrete roadway construction barriers, concrete telephone poles and other large pieces of donated concrete construction materials.

Free refreshments — including cookies, popcorn and sno-cones — will be served. In honor of the weekend festivities, admission fees to the Marine Science Center and Lighthouse Point Park will be waived Nov. 11 and 12. 

Overflow parking is available at Toronita Avenue Beach Park. Free shuttle service will be provided among all four locations during event hours, allowing visitors to easily visit all the attractions.
 

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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most experienced reporters, having amassed dozens of journalism-industry awards. Frederick is enrolled online at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's a third of the way though the Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation will be in March 2018.