Friends of RGV Reef has found a new friend, Theresa Metty. She called us with the idea of memorializing her late fiancée, Dr. Jerry “Big” Whitson who, by all accounts, was a great guy and loved everything about the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre.
Henceforth the Big Pile will be called “Big’s Reef” in Jerry’s memory. And as soon as we can get our permitting squared away, we will be placing mooring buoys there. This will help smaller boats, anglers, and snorkelers use the reef. Jerry would’ve liked that.
Additionally, Big’s Reef is going to grow. Built in 2017-2018 with 14,000,000 lbs. of recycled concrete RR ties, it is shaped like a large unruly cone. It stands 32 feet off the bottom, has a 200-foot diameter base, and is covered with an exceptionally complex surface. This provides escape and ambush crevasses for multiple species of fish through their life cycles. The current wedges nutrient-rich bottom water up into the photic zone, and biologists tell us it causes a downstream plankton bloom, bringing additional food in the form of forage fish to the party.
The fabulous news is that, with this donation in Dr. Whitson’s memory, we can finally add height to Big’s Reef in our next deployment. We’ve wanted to do so through several deployments. The plan is bring Big’s Reef up to 40 feet, maybe even 45 feet, depending on how the concrete stacks, to within 30 feet of the surface. It will be visible from the surface on nice days and will place the top of the reef, which hosts multiple species of fish and a dazzling array of tropical reef fish, in range of snorkelers. Already an undersea oasis swarming with fish, it’s going to be stupendous.
We are happy to welcome Theresa and Dr. “Big” Whitson to our family of supporters.