Barge sunk to form artificial reef off of Tybee Island - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Barge sunk to form artificial reef

TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) -

Creating artificial reefs off of the Georgia coast - the idea is simple enough - taking stuff like tanks and ships and sinking them to the bottom  for all sorts of sea life to inhabit.

But there was nothing easy about the sinking of "the chick barge".

Capt. Kevin Quinn has been navigating these waters for years. 

"The coast of Georgia is nothing but a flat sand bottom, so there's no habitat for the fish," he said.

As a member of the Coastal Conservation Association, Quinn has helped make the new reef possible.

"In cooperation with the CCA and the DNR, we work hand in hand with them to find stuff to sink, and they're the ones to say when to sink and where to sink it," he said.

The rendezvous point is 9 miles off of Tybee Island. A tug boat appears with a 254-foot hopper barge in tow, filled with chicken coups courtesy Claxton Poultry.

"They make wonderful habitat for fish because it's all open, and the fish can swim back and forth," he said.

It's not as simple as tugging a barge out to the middle of the ocean and dropping it to the bottom. They're looking for an exact spot, because there are several other things at the bottom of the sea floor.

Quinn used a GPS to show there are railroad cars out there from New York, Sherman tanks and surplus tanks that are no good anymore.

The no good barge has no name until the Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources deems it the "chick barge" for the chicken cages.

After taking on water two hours the tug boat crew make a daring move. They get in the barge and cut a hole from inside out for more water to fill in.

The sun is sinking faster than barge itself so we call it day and head back to the savannah yacht club.

But we learn that by the time we make it back to dock, the barge is at reached its final resting place. Quinn is happy.

"Instead of having a desert sand bottom, now you have an oasis in the middle of the desert," he said.

The barge is from Georgia Recyclers. So as it used to haul old materials for new life - it too was repurposed. 

Copyright 2013 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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