Artificial reefs make it all real.

Take a look at the list of fish below, paired with the Genus name. The list is ordered by sighting frequency, meaning the fish you’re most likely to see are higher up on the list. For example, you are more than 68 percent likely to spot a Spanish Hogfish on every dive and less than 1 percent likely to see a Toadfish on every dive.

Fish Genus species Sighting Frequency
Spanish Hogfish Bodianus rufus 68.39%
Rock Hind Epinephelus adscensionis 67.24%
Greater Amberjack Seriola dumerili 65.52%
Great Barracuda Sphyraena barracuda 62.07%
Creole Fish Paranthias furcifer 58.62%
Blue Angelfish Holacanthus bermudensis 56.32%
Sergeant Major Abudefduf saxatilis 54.60%
Bluehead Wrasse Thalassoma bifaciatum 45.40%
Gray Snapper Lutjanus griseus 45.40%
Cocoa Damselfish Stegastes variabilis 44.83%
Gray Triggerfish Balistes capriscus 44.83%
Red Snapper Lutjanus campechanus 44.25%
Atlantic Spadefish Chaetodipterus faber 42.53%
Blue Tang Acanthurus coeruleus 40.80%
Spotfin Hogfish Bodianus pulchellus 38.51%
Blue Runner Caranx crysos 37.36%
Almaco Jack Seriola rivoliana 32.76%
Bermuda Chub Kyphosus sectatrixr 31.03%
Horse-eye Jack Caranx latus 31.03%
Crevalle Jack Caranx hippos 29.31%
Seaweed Blenny Parablennius marmoreus 29.31%
Cobia / Ling Rachycentron canadum 28.74%
Spotfin Butterflyfish Chaetodon ocellatus 25.86%
African Pompano Alectic ciliaris 25.29%
Soapfish sp.   24.71%
French Angel Pomacanthus paru 22.41%
Sharpnose Puffer Canthigaster rostrata 22.41%
Sheepshead Archosargus probatocephalus 22.41%
Reef Butterflyfish Chaetodon sedentarius 18.97%
Tomtate Haemulon aurolineatum 17.82%
Bar Jack Caranx ruber 17.24%
Orange Spotted Filefish Cantherhines pullus 17.24%
Vermillion Snapper Rhomboplites aurorubens 17.24%
Lookdown Selene vomer 16.09%
Brown Chromis Chromis multilineata 13.79%
Townsend Angel Pomacanthus townsendi 13.79%
Grouper sp.   13.22%
Tesselated Blenny Hypsoblennius invemar 13.22%
Blenny sp.   12.64%
Mycteroperca sp.   12.64%
Rainbow Runner Elagatis bipinnulata 12.07%
Molly Miller Scartella cristata 11.49%
Beaugregory Stegastes leucostictus 10.92%
Damselfish sp.   10.92%
Graysby Epinephelus cruentatus 10.92%
Yellow Jack Caranx bartholomaei 10.92%
Atlantic Bonito Sarda sarda 9.20%
Dusky Damselfish Stegastes fuscus 9.20%
Creole Wrasse Clepticus parrae 7.47%
Doctorfish Acanthurus chirurgus 7.47%
Gag Mycteroperca microlepis 7.47%
Scrawled Filefish Aluterus scriptus 7.47%
Dog Snapper Lutjanus joca 6.90%
Redspotted Hawkfish Amblycirrhitus pinos 6.32%
Porkfish Anisotremus virginicus 6.32%
Spottail Pinfish Diplodus holbrooki 5.75%
Red Hind Epinephelus guttalus 5.17%
Squirrelfish Holocentrus adscensionis 5.17%
White Spotted Filefish Cantherhines macrocerus 5.17%
Goby sp.   4.02%
Queen Angelfish Holacanthus ciliaris 4.02%
Redbanded Parrotfish Sparisoma aurofrenatum 4.02%
Redlip Blenny Ophioblennius atlanticus 4.02%
Scamp Mycteroperca phenax 4.02%
Bicolor Damselfish Stegastes partitus 3.45%
Scad sp.   3.45%
Angelfish sp. Juvenile   2.87%
Black Durgon Melichthys niger 2.87%
Black Jack Caranx lugubris 2.87%
Longfin Damselfish Stegastes diencaeus 2.87%
Sharksucker Echeneis naucrates 2.87%
Silky Shark Carcharhinus falciformis 2.87%
Trumpetfish Aulostomus maculatus 2.87%
Bandtail Puffer Sphoeroides splengleri 2.30%
Black Grouper Mycteroperca bonaci 2.30%
Hawksbill Turtle Eretmochelys imbriocota 2.30%
Larval Fish   2.30%
Ocean Trigger Canthidermis sufflamen 2.30%
Tomtate Juv. Haemulon aurolineatum 2.30%
Whale Shark Rhincodon typus 2.30%
Yellowmouth Grouper Mycteroperca interstitialis 2.30%
Cardinal fish   1.72%
Ballyhoo Hemirhamphus brasiliensis 1.72%
Bigeye Priacanthus arenatus 1.72%
Bluehead Wrasse Juvenile Thalassoma bifaciatum 1.72%
Jack sp.   1.72%
Jack sp. Juvenile   1.72%
King Mackerel Scomberomorus cavalla 1.72%
Spotted Scorpionfish Scorpaena plumieri 1.72%
Smooth Trunkfish Lactophyrs triqueter 1.72%
Yellowtail Damselfish Microspathodon chrysurus 1.72%
Atlantic Bumper Chloroscombrus chrysurus 1.15%
Cubbyu Equetus umbrosus 1.15%
Grunt sp.   1.15%
Goliath Grouper Epinephelus itajara 1.15%
Least Puffer Sphoeroides parvus 1.15%
Mackeral sp.   1.15%
Puffer sp. . 1.15%
Shark sp.   1.15%
Southern Stingray Dasyatis americana 1.15%
Stoplight Parrotfish Sparisoma viride 1.15%
Black Margate surinamensis 0.57%
Blackfin Tuna Thunnus atlanticus 0.57%
Comb Grouper Mycteroperca rubra 0.57%
Damselfish sp. Juvenile.   0.57%
Dolphin/Dorado Coryphaena hippurus 0.57%
Goldentail Moray Gymnothorax miliaris 0.57%
Gray Angelfish Pomacanthus arcuatus 0.57%
Great Hammerhead Sphyrna mokarran 0.57%
Grouper sp. Juvenile   0.57%
Hogfish Lachnolaimus maximus 0.57%
Lane Snapper Lutjanus synagris 0.57%
Loggerhead Turtle Caretta caretta 0.57%
Longspine Squirrelfish Holocentrus rufus 0.57%
Man-o-War fish Nomeus gronovii 0.57%
Parrotfish Juvenile   0.57%
Pinfish Lagodon rhomboides 0.57%
Gulf Toadfish Opsanus beta 0.57%

KEY:
sp. = unknown species

The Gulf accounts for 80% of all shrimp harvested,
62% of all oysters harvested and more than
1.4 billion pounds
of annual seafood production.

More than 140 petroleum platforms—with more on the way—have found new purpose as marine habitat in the Texas Artificial Reef Program.

Texas boasts 66 artificial reef sites ranging from 5 to 100 miles from shore in the Gulf of Mexico—that’s 3,440 acres of prime fishing and diving adventure.

Seven reef sites within nine nautical miles of shore serve as accessible nearshore fishing and diving opportunities.

Red snapper, the most popular game fish in Texas Gulf waters, thrive around artificial reef sites. Scientific divers see red snapper at TPWD artificial reef sites during four of every ten visits to these locations.

With a few exceptions, the floor of the Gulf of Mexico is flat and bare except for artificial reef sites. Nearly 200 marine fish species have been seen on these complex, stable, and durable habitats among artificial reef structures.

Sixteen of 23 U.S. coastal states (or 70 percent) maintain artificial reef programs.

The Texas Clipper ship reef off South Padre Island generates more than $1 million for the local economy from anglers and $1.4–$2 million from divers. Anglers spend on average $460 per fishing trip, while divers spend upwards of $2,000 per dive.

Thirteen ships have been intentionally sunk as part of the Texas Artificial Reef Program, the largest being the USTS Texas Clipper. She’s 473 feet long—that’s 1.5 times the length of a football field.

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