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Deadman's Island Restoration Project

Lead by the City of Gulf Breeze, this project restored coastal barrier habitat on Deadman's Island.

Background Information
The loss of coastal barrier habitat in Pensacola Bay due to development of bridges, cities, ports,
country clubs, water fronts for private development have reduced the amount of natural habitat
locations to be used by the public, fishing, and recreation communities. The City of Gulf Breeze
needs to protect and preserve its property. The homeowners in the surrounding area need
Deadman’s Island to continue acting as a barrier island for storms and hurricanes. The Deadman’s
Island Restoration Project is highly used by the general public for recreating, such as boating,
hiking, fishing, and kayaking. The local community is a regular user of this convenient site for
weekend and holiday recreation.

Ecodisks in waterDeadman’s Island represents a piece of endangered habitat due to the loss of marsh, the
native oyster, Crassostrea virginica, habitat which has also declined. A solution to address thehabitat erosion is to build a wave break (energy dissipater) for the barrier island. This natural oyster shell wave break called Ecodiscs will increase the native oyster habitat by providing a foundation for a natural oyster reef made from recycled , oysters Crassostrea virginica, shells obtained from area restaurants and fossilized oyster shells. The design mold was modified by school kids to incorporate the fossilized and recycled shells. This was a great educational experience for the students and teachers to understand the settlement or an oyster and the developing ecosystem their design will create.The breakwater is the first step for the completion of the five task restoration project. These tasks include wetland creation, dune restoration, seagrass restoration and bird habitat restoration.

The project and reef creation funded by SARP provides educational opportunities for years to come as a dynamic and functioning aquatic reef habitat. This project provides many functions and tasks, shellfish habitat restoration/creation, for the broad ecological benefits and ecosystem including the creation of coastal wetlands, through shoreline restoration. The project will provide protection for communities and “green” infrastructure through habitat restoration to improve coastal resiliency to storms. The project served as a platform to provide a learning opportunity and appreciation of an oyster reef ecosystem protecting a marsh ecosystem, marine oak hammock and bird habitat. This project provided opportunities for education and training for a two county area through restoration of coastal and marine habitats.

School Kids deadman's IslandThe transferability of this project to other coastal areas is already being viewed as an alternative to rip rap. The wave break provides native oyster habitat which has declined over the years, and will bring back oysters to be used as ecological engineers, as opposed to an unnatural seawall or a large amount of rip rap. The oyster wave break emphasizes a natural alternative to protecting this coastal barrier island and habitat.Homeowners want to use similar wave breaks to create a living shoreline as opposed to hardening their shoreline. This project would be beneficial in other coastal areas for habitat restoration as well as on the Florida Panhandle.


Ecodisk ConstructionStudents from Little Flower and Catholic High school and some home schooled students created a prototype by placing fossilized and recycled oyster shell inside a mold which hardened and created the natural resources Ecosdisc. After the Ecodiscs were placed and stacked on top of each other over a piling, by qualified marine contractors, the students then put on their snorkel gear to monitor and count the fish and invertebrates.

Monitoring and Maintenance Activities

The Ecodiscs are difficult to monitor such as traditional reefs and will definitely need further thought. The area in between each disc is stacked and a quadrat would not efficient due to vertical stacking. The ecodisc provide a dark setting which is difficult to see the fish without a light. Even though the site in in five feet of water, it was found dive lights and SCUBA is preferred for an effective and thorough count of percent coverage of spat and also to count the number of fish and invertebrates. It was also found to shine a light on the opposite side of where the technician is, the silhouette of the fish can be identified. Evaluating the water column preference was easy because each disc is the same size in diameter, spacing and approximate in height. The amount of fish on one disc on the same column varied according water depth.

Basic monitoring data is provided in this report. Future monitoring depends on funding but will be proposed as a study comparison for the additional Ecodiscs, which are needed to be placed elsewhere in the footprint of Deadman’s Island state land lease.

Volunteer presentationsOutreach Activities
The students were given a presentation on the Deadman’ s Island Project, SARP, project safety and were also given a presentation on the marine ecosystem and were shown the importance and role of oysters and how this project relates to shoreline protection. Additional outreach was television News shows such as CNN(National), WKRG 5 (Mobile), WEAR 3 (Pensacola, Fort Walton and Navarre).

Marine Fish Benefited 
Atlantic Gulf Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhynchus)
Atlantic Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta)
Kemp Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys kempi)
Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Leatherback Turtle(Dermochelys coriacea)
Black Drum (Pogonias cromis )
Red Drum (Sciaenops ocellatus)
Summer Flounder (Paralichthys dentatus )
Southern Flounder (Paralichthys lethostigma )
Spanish Mackerel (Scomberomorus maculatus )
Gag Grouper (Mycteroperca microlepis )
Sand Seatrout (Cyanoscion arenarius )
Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus )
Stone Crab (Menippe mercenaria ).
Gray Snapper (Lutjanus griseus )
Sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus)
Spotted Seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus)
Spadefish (Chaetodipterus faber)
Blenny (Chasmodes saburrae)
Frillfin Goby (bathygobins soporator)
Oyster Toadfish (Opsanus tau)
Spotfin Mojarras (Diapterus auratus)
Cownose Ray (Rhinoptera bonasus)

Dead Man's Island, Florida

Associated Locations

Town zip code county state congressional dist


Name of barrier Latitude Longitude FONS ID FIS Project ID FWS Acc. #

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