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Okaloosa County to construct new artificial reef

OKALOOSA COUNTY -- It hasn't been decided where the artificial reef will be.  The plan right now is to move the recreational boat The Tenneco from Pensacola to Okaloosa County.

Once the boat is moved, the county would sink and begin constructing the reef.  Emerald Coast Scuba in Destin is the go-to place for divers and divers in training.

Local Dive Master Andrea Reid said Destin is clear, emerald waters offer a beautiful scene for divers.

"There's tons of stuff to see...tropical fish," said Reid.

But divers are limited.  Most dive sites are more than 80 feet deep and there are not many areas for beginners to practice.

Reid said, "Shallow reefs are really needed around here, for less experienced divers, a shallow reef is much needed for that."

The Shirley J. Brown artificial reef is something the diving community has been waiting for.  It will offer what's considered a "shallow dive" at just 60 feet. The only other 60-foot dive is the Miss Louise located off of Crystal Beach.
 
"If they're a little nervous about doing deeper dives another one would be perfect for them," Reid said.

Fallon Hill, 14, just started taking diving lessons.  Her options are even more limited. Junior divers can't dive more than 70 feet--which leaves only two dive sites for Hill to practice. She's excited there may be a new area for her to explore.

"I just love the fact you get a clearer view of everything down there," Hill said.

If all goes according to plan, the artificial reef could be ready by next summer.