More Mini Reefs Come To the Suncoast

START’s campaign to promote the use of under dock mini reefs to improve local water quality continues to gain momentum. Orders are coming in from all along the Suncoast from Siesta Key, the City of Sarasota on up through Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island. An excellent example as shown above is the recent installation at the Longboat Harbor condominium on Longboat Key.

Bill Coughlin, Longboat Harbor’s President, has led the drive in the community to install twenty one of the units throughout the dockside area of the complex. Bill says “People just love them as they attract sea life and fish and improve the clarity of the water in our marina area”.

Mini reefs are designed to filter up to 30,000 gallons of seawater every day helping to replace the important role that mangroves once played in the ecology of Sarasota Bay. Mangrove roots absorb excess nutrients in runoff from the shoreline before they can enter the waterway and provide both food and shelter for a variety of sea life from crabs and shrimp to snook and juvenile tarpon. With 90% of our native mangroves gone from development, mini reefs occupy underutilized space under docks and provide habitat for water filtering sea life that reduce algal growth and improve water clarity in a twelve to fifteen-foot radius around the unit. Without the habitat provided by the mini reef, most of the sea life in the nearby waterway is unable to attach and survive on our harden sea-walled shoreline. Instead it eventually dies and decays on the bottom providing still more nutrients to sustain unwanted algal blooms.

Mini reefs, designed and manufactured by Ocean Habitats, Inc, are made with a durable polypropylene frame and shelves. The dimensions of the units are 24”X24” X 36” deep and fit easily under any dock with floating tiedowns to keep them in place. Like a bait bucket, they do not require a permit and need very little maintenance.

There are now over 4,000 mini reefs installed all over Florida from Jacksonville to The Keys. Some of the installations in our area include ten units at the Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant on Longboat Key, twelve units at a resident on Harbor Drive in Sarasota and eight units at the boat ramp in Ken Thompson Park.

Ordering a mini reef through START allows you to take advantage of the START Non-Profit Discount at $297 per unit. This price is tax free and includes free installation. The START discount saves you 33% off the regular retail price with tax and the $125 installation charge.

To take advantage of the START discount at $297 per unit, contact Sandy Gilbert at

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