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September 16, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

BY: Dustin Cranor


© OCEANA / Carlos Suárez


Under typical weather conditions, it should have taken the divers only an hour and a half to reach the 3-5’s area on the 42-foot Oceana Longitude this morning. But because of rough seas, the divers decided to divert from the course when they realized that it would take nearly twice as long to reach the location. Instead, they visited Marquardt’s Barge, approximately 10 miles from where the Oceana Latitude is anchored in Port St. Joe.

This 100-foot barge was sunk by the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association in 2003. It now sits approximately 60-feet underwater and is home to a variety of marine species. Here’s a list of what Oceana’s divers saw: Caesar grunts, amberjacks, damselfish, juvenile cubbyu, grouper, sandfish, gorgonians, sea urchins and comb jellies.

It’s a testament to the vitality of the Gulf that even an artificial habitat like this should harbor such a wealth of life. All the more reason to make sure that new drilling is never allowed to jeopardize it.