New artificial reef—an ‘island of life’—sunk south of Mobile Bay

Artificial Reef
This will soon be a new home for marine life. (Chevron North America Exploration and Production / Outdoor Alabama)

The “Beer Can Rig” off Alabama’s Gulf Coast is about to get a whole new purpose, thanks to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resource (ADCNR). Keep reading to find out how their Rigs to Reefs program is transforming an old rig into a habitat for marine life.

The new artificial reef will be an ‘island of life’

Artificial Reef
(Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources)

Neptune VK826, affectionately known as the “Beer Can Rig,” is going below the surface soon, where it will serve an important function.

“These structures are often called ‘islands of life’ because they support everything from coral to pelagic fish and sea turtles. We are excited to make this new reef site available to anglers in the coming weeks.”

Chris Blankenship, ADCNR Commissioner

The 705-by-72-foot spar will be towed from its current location and sunk at a depth of 700 feet approximately 55 nautical miles south of Mobile Bay in early August 2023, according to Outdoor Alabama.

In a few weeks, after the rig settles on the ocean floor, anglers will be able to visit the site.

Alabama’s artificial reef program the “best in the world”

Artificial Reef
This giant Neptune Spar is getting a new purpose. (Chevron North America Exploration and Production / Outdoor Alabama)

But what exactly is an artificial reef? It is a structure that provides a refuge for reef-associated fish (some of which you’ve probably eaten before at home or at a local restaurant).

Not only do Alabama’s Artificial Reefs programs—including Rigs to Reefs—support marine life. Artificial reefs also support our economy. Here’s the impact (according to Alabama’s Artificial Reefs’ website):

  • $13 million tax revenues generated annually
  • 2,400 jobs supported by man-made reefs

Pretty impressive, right? Tim Gothard, Executive Director of the Alabama Wildlife Federation, thinks so too. Here’s what he had to say about artificial reefs in the story our sister publication, Bham Now, published in 2022.

“The artificial reef program in Alabama is the best in the world. The collection of inshore reefs, near shore reefs and offshore reefs is unmatched anywhere else in the world. Artificial reefs provide great recreational fishing and diving opportunities. They provide material benefits to the marine ecosystem. It’s a win-win.”

Tim Gothard, Alabama Wildlife Federation Executive Director

Want updates like this delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter today.

Sarah Gronberg
Sarah Gronberg
Articles: 388