Business installs center’s mini reefs in Bradenton Beach

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David Wolff Jr. of Ocean Habitats installs mini reefs Dec. 20 below the dock on the bayfront at the Bridge Tender Inn & Dockside Bar, Bradenton Beach. Fred Bartizal, owner of the restaurant and bayfront dock, purchased the reefs through the Center of Anna Maria Island as a part of the nonprofit’s “Go Green” campaign. Islander Photos: Ryan Paice
A pair of mini reef Ocean Habitats sit ready for installation Dec. 20 at the dock at the Bridge Tender Inn.

The first mini reefs purchased through the Center of Anna Maria Island have been installed.

Ocean Habitats president David Wolff and his son, David Jr., installed the first four mini reefs Dec. 20 under the dock of the Bridge Tender Inn & Dockside Bar on Sarasota Bay at 135 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach.

Fred Bartizal, the owner of the Bridge Tender, purchased six mini reefs — four for the restaurant’s dock and two for his home dock — through the center. The small structures are placed underwater to cultivate sea life and promote clean water.

The purchase was one of the first in a center program that allows people to purchase a mini reef for $350, with $150 of each sale benefitting the nonprofit.

The program is a part of the nonprofit’s “Go Green” campaign, a series of initiatives aimed at making the nonprofit and the island community more environmentally friendly. Other initiatives include incorporating environmentally-friendly LED lightbulbs in fixtures and a prohibition of single-use plastic water bottles.

Development director Jim McDaniel wrote in a Dec. 19 email to The Islander that the center had sold 52 mini reefs as of Dec. 20, raising $7,800.

Ocean Habitats will have installed 47 reefs by the end of the year. The reefs can filter more than 1.4 million gallons of water daily and help cultivate around 20,000 fish and crabs, according to Wolff.

By spring 2020, the center hopes to have a GPS map of the reef locations and that Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium will use the information for research.

Proceeds from the program are being allocated to the center’s end-of-year fundraiser, where a donor matched up to $100,000 in donations to the nonprofit until Jan. 15, 2020.

However, McDaniel wrote, “The center is poised to go crashing beyond its $100,000 match ahead of schedule and, with this news, our match donor has extended (his/her) match total to $130,000.”

People can donate to the center by calling 941-778-1908, at centerami.org, or in person at 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.

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