- Screenshot 2022 10 19 090728 - RGV Reef

Carbon Capture Research Begins at Largest Artificial Reef in Texas

First of its kind study could be a game changer in dealing with climate change.

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, TX, Oct. 19, 2022 – Friends of RGV Reef (RGV Reef), a Texas non-profit, is pleased to announce the official launch of a new study to determine the carbon capture potential, also known as carbon sequestration, of a 1,650-acre artificial reef, the largest and most complex artificial reef off the Texas coast. This is groundbreaking research since no one has ever studied how reefs, natural or man-made, can capture carbon. Depending on the findings, the implications of the research could be a critical tool in curbing greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

“The research is a first of its kind anywhere,” said Friends of RGV Reef President Gary Glick. “It is the first and most comprehensive study in the world to determine whether artificial reefs can capture or trap carbon and maybe a solution in dealing with our real-life climate challenges.”

“We are very grateful the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) which is leading this important research that could benefit all Texans, the U.S., and all countries that have coastlines,” Glick said.

It is believed reefs, both natural and man-made, capture and store carbon, thereby assisting in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide (CO2). However, until now, no one has undertaken studies to either prove or dismiss
the theory.

“The research that’s underway is both multifaceted and comprehensive,” said Richard Kline, Ph.D., Professor, School of Earth, Environmental, and Marine Sciences at UTRGV. “Our team is seeking to quantify how much carbon is being captured by RGV
Reef. We are surveying these areas: the biomass in the water column, which includes everything from the millions of fish who now live on the reef, to the mass of living microorganisms in the water and those that attach themselves to the reef like sea
urchins and barnacles. We’ll also look at the carbon capture capabilities of the bottomland and the sediment, in and around the reef.”

“It’s suspected that artificial reefs can hold a substantial amount of carbon biomass, but like detectives, we’ll analyze the data to find out if that’s really the case,” said Kline. Dr. Kline is a scientist at UTRGV who has been conducting research on artificial reefs for more than 20 years. His team is leading the research in partnership with RGV Reef.

The artificial reef, an existing collaboration between Friends of RGV Reef and the UTRGV, strives to bring back red snapper and other sea life populations. It is located 13 nautical miles northeast of the South Padre Island jetties offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, permitted through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The majority of the artificial reef is constructed out of intentionally sunken vessels, concrete rail ties, and cinder blocks.

Since its creation in 2017, RGV Reef has attracted millions of new fish and marine life to the Texas Coast, like endangered sea turtles, and has added to the biodiversity of the region.

“The thorough research we are conducting will fill important gaps in our knowledge regarding carbon capture (sequestration) opportunities in the marine environment,” said Kline.

Depending on the results of the study, this research could be a seminal moment in efforts to combat climate change. Many countries, people and companies, are all looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, such as using electric vehicles and
reducing emissions around the world. Now, reefs could be another important tool in the way to combat greenhouse gases – a key contributor to climate change.

“Just imagine if the UTRGV study proves that reefs can make a significant difference in capturing and storing carbon,” said Glick, “then, there would be a double benefit in building artificial reefs.”

“Every nation that has a coastline may be able to build artificial reefs that could help in the climate battle while at the same time restoring precious habitat and bringing back fish and other marine habitat around the world. That’s the reason this research is so important and really exciting. We can help improve our land and air, while nurturing the oceans back to health.

That’s a real win-win for everyone – it’s a potential game-changer for the planet,” said Glick.

For more information about RGV Reef, please visit https://rgvreef.org/.

About Friends of RGV Reef
Friends of Rio Grande Valley Reef is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to building and restoring fish habitat, including nursery reefs, to put fish back in the Gulf of Mexico. RGV Reef was founded in 2015, out of growing concern for the Gulf of Mexico’s marine life decline. Our Gulf’s ecosystem is threatened by a variety of ills, primarily habitat loss. RGV Reef is funded by individuals, conservation groups, family foundations, businesses, fishing tournaments, grants, state and local governments and folks like you, folks interested in giving back.


Gary Glick, President, Friends of RGV Reef
Phone: 512-923-1904
Email: RGVReef@gmail.com

Friends of RGV Reef

Dr. Richard Kline, University of Texas RGV
Email: richard.kline@utrgv.edu

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