A New Zealand wine company is deploying artificial reefs in the waters of Okaloosa Co.

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) — A wine company is joining ocean conservation efforts by sinking artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico. No, there is no wine on the reefs.

Starborough Wine, a New Zealand-based company, is raising awareness for National Oceans Month by rolling out massive limestone reefs in the waters of Destin-Fort Walton Beach.

The reefs were launched two miles offshore on Tuesday. Teams of divers went to secure the reefs. The structures rest 68 feet below the surface. GPS coordinates are listed as 30 21,047, 86 36,874.

Reefmaker, the nation’s largest artificial reef builder, has manufactured 50,000 reefs in the state of Florida.

Limestone reef structures

  • 68 feet deep
  • Weighs 18 tons
  • 15 feet high
  • 19 feet wide
  • Capable of withstanding storms with Category 5 hurricane force winds and waves
  • Made from ancient shells with a natural PH balance for marine life

Reefmakers, Walton County, Okaloosa Department of Tourism and Starborough joined forces for the deployment.

Starborough said they are taking their efforts a step further to support conservation and ocean efforts. They give money and dedicated media campaigns to raise awareness with a social media challenge.

The company will deploy a second limestone reef if campaigns can reach 100,000 people.

“This is just the latest partnership in our ongoing commitment to protect and restore our oceans,” said Courtney O’Brien, senior director of marketing at E.&. Cave J. Gallo. “Coral reefs are an extremely important part of our ecosystem and we are honored to partner with Reefmaker to make a real impact.”

The new reefs are open to the public for diving exploration. Coastal Resource team members said lionfish and other marine species will start showing up in the area within days.

Shirley M. Pinder