Living seawall gives boost to marine life in Sarasota

Image 1 of 4

In Sarasota, where they were hit har with red tide, a new living seawall could bring a rebirth of marine life.

The wall is meant to prevent erosion, but this one will actually become a new home for a host of sea creatures.

Under the shadows of downtown Sarasota, there's a whole different underwater city going to work. 

"You won't see any of the traditional reef balls that are designed just for the fish, what you will see [are] very aesthetically pleasing tidal pools and shells. Things that make it enjoyable to come out," said Todd Barber. 

Todd Barber the chairman of the Reef Ball Foundation said they used 36 reef balls to make the 250-foot seawall. 

It'll catch the eyes of guests on land and in the sea. It comes after a long period of red tide and fish kills. 

"When red tide occurs it kills all the animals in the water column, but fish have a way of putting millions of eggs back in the water. They still need a place to hide and habitat to grow," said Barber. 

The Reef Ball Foundation said oysters and other creatures will soon attach to the living wall. Each will bring their own benefit with them. 

"The more filter feeders that we can put in the water the more we can offset some of the impacts that are occurring," said Barber. 

For the city, the wall started out as a different way to deflect wave energy and turned into an added bonus. 

"Seawalls can have negative environmental impacts and we wanted to explore the ways to improve the environmental impacts of sea walls," said Stevie Freeman-Montes. 

City sustainability manager Stevie Freeman-Montess aid Mote Marine Laboratory will monitor the activity there. 

They're hopeful it will bring an abundance of new life and improved water quality. 

The city used settlement funds from the BP oil spill to pay for the wall. If it works, as they hope, they may build more. 

"We need all the habitat we can get to help improve marine life," said Freeman-Montes.