One year ago, six giant streel structures from BHP’s Griffin oil and gas facility were decommissioned, cleaned, repurposed and deployed on the ocean floor within the Exmouth Gulf in Western Australia.
Known as King Reef, it is now the largest and fastest developing purpose-built artificial reef in the Southern Hemisphere – and it is thriving.
Today, the two acre King Reef has created more than 27,000 cubic metres of new underwater habitat, providing food and shelter for more than 50 different types of marine life, including a variety of fish, sea turtles, sea snakes, sharks and rays.
BHP Field Operations Manager Darryl Nottingham said the success of the reef has been the result of a fantastic partnership between BHP, Recfishwest and the Exmouth community.
“It’s been the community who’s arguably, played the most significant role in this project,” Darryl said.
“Community volunteers have been out on the water constantly monitoring the reef’s development through a BHP funded project called Reef Vision.”
Reef Vision empowers community stewardship through ecological data collection and is a vital component of the King Reef Project.
Through Reef Vision, community members head out to the reef, drop cameras to observe the marine life and send the data back to Recfishwest and Curtin University for scientific assessment and reporting.
Darryl said the results have been fantastic so far, and the reef is having a direct positive impact on tourism, and local businesses.
“Exmouth has always been known as a prime fishing location, with deep water game fishing being the main draw card for the more experienced fishing enthusiasts,” Darryl said.
“King Reef is only 6 nautical miles off the coast of Exmouth and within the Gulf peninsula – so it is perfect for beginners and intermediate fishers.
“More people are heading into tackle stores and stocking up for their day on the reef. Dive Charters are hiring and providing equipment and local service stations and food outlets are helping visitors looking to have an adventure on King Reef.
“The new fishing opportunities also help boost boat hire companies in town and accommodation providers, retail outlets and restaurants are all seeing more people flock to Exmouth to experience its newest fishing playground.”