Artificial reefs make it all real.

Bay fish

The Texas Coastal and Marine Council inherited the V.A. Fogg after she sank on February 1, 1972. She had sailed from Freeport, Texas into the Gulf of Mexico after off-loading a cargo of benzene. She was headed offshore to clean the tanks and was carrying a load of xylene when a spark ignited the benzene fumes, and the volatile cargo created an explosion that ripped apart the ship's hull plating, nearly splitting the vessel in two. She quickly sank in 100 feet of water. This tragic accident created the beginnings of the Freeport Liberty Ship Reef Site.

The S. S. John Worthington was a WWII tanker, originally built in 1920. She made 20 voyages during the war before being torpedoed off the coast of Brazil on May 27, 1943. Despite a house-sized hole in her hull, the Worthington's crew sailed back to Galveston. She was damaged beyond repair. After being stripped and partly salvaged, the ship was abandoned behind San Jose Island, where she eventually succumbed to the sea. This wreck is neither monitored nor maintained by the Program but is included here for the benefit of anglers, divers and the general public. Visibility at the site varies from good to poor. Anglers can target typical bay fishes such as sheepshead and spotted sea trout. Click the following link to read more about the Worthington (PDF, 729KB).

Ships on the Horizon

Texas Parks and Wildlife would like more ships to reef in the Gulf. We continue to look for opportunities to add other qualifying vessels to the Ships-to-Reefs program. Anyone interested in donating a vessel may contact Dale Shively, Artificial Reef Program Leader, at 512-389-4686.

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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