On Monday, January 27, several dozen representatives from the Outer Banks Anglers Club, as well regional media outlets, took a trip to a designated spot 7.5 miles offshore of Oregon Inlet to celebrate one of the first visible additions to a new artificial reef that has been years in the making.
The new Artificial Reef, (AR-165), is sponsored by the Outer Banks Anglers Club Artificial Reef Committee, and the ensuing reef will provide exceptional fishing grounds to anglers who are somewhat close to shore.
The Outer Banks Anglers Club received an $882,000 state grant to build the reef, which stemmed from the sale of coastal recreational fishing licenses, as well as donations for the project, including a substantial $20,000 contribution from TW’s Bait & Tackle.
The project has been in the works for roughly seven years, and the reef is being bolstered with discarded material from the old Bonner Bridge, which is in the process of being demolished.
Monday’s initiative, however, signified one of the most notable contributions to the project, thanks to the purposeful sinking of an old tugboat.
The tugboat American was built in Baltimore, M.D., in 1951, and was retired from use in 2012.
On the morning of January 27, it was hauled out 7.5 miles into the ocean off of Oregon Inlet, so that it could be sunk and added to the Outer Banks Anglers Club’s reef.
“It’s a great day and something we have been looking forward to for a long time,” said Tony Lombardi of the Outer Banks Anglers Club in an earlier interview. “We are all excited about this step.”
Island Free Press reporter Rory Kelleher captured the action while onboard the Crystal Dawn out of Pirate’s Cove Marina in Manteo during the sinking of the tugboat, alongside Outer Banks Anglers Club members and media outlets who garnered a front-row seat to the show.
Of a total of 68 artificial reefs along the North Carolina coast, 43 are in the Atlantic Ocean, and 25 are located in estuaries, according to a previous interview with Jordan Byrum, artificial reef coordinator for N.C. Marine Fisheries.
55% of the Bonner Bridge material will go to AR-160, which is the reef closest to Oregon Inlet. The remaining 45% of the material will be split up among the other reefs which are north of the inlet.