Deadman’s Island is a remarkable coastal place, owned by the City of Gulf Breeze. It is one of the few areas that have a variety of ecological habitats and interests in one unique location,
including historic cultural resources. Deadman's Island is a migratory bird drop zone, coastal marine oak hammock, a coastal barrier island surrounding a juncus sp. saltmarsh and also an area where
native oysters will be enhanced by this restoration project. The entire Pensacola Bay is an active sportfishing destination, both onshore and offshore. Deadman’s Island was donated to the City to be
used as conservation only. The City is committed to preserving the natural character of Deadman’s Island.
Due to the rapid loss of the Juncus saltmarsh which has provided a nursery for the sportfish, the number of habitat and sports fish has declined. This area is ideal for the project due to large deeper water cove near the island. After the restoration project is complete, the biodiversity and population of sportfish will increase 95% partly because the deeper water of Navy Cove are adjacent to the island and allows juveniles to migrate to the ocean safely.
The loss of coastal barrier habitat in Pensacola Bay is due to development of bridges, cities, ports, country clubs, waterfronts for private development. This loss has reduced the amount of natural habitat locations to be used by the public. The general public and local community use Deadman's Island for recreational activities, such as paddleboarding, boating, hiking, fishing, kayaking and exploring. There are not many areas like Deadman’s Island in Florida other than the protected areas Gulf Islands National seashore and Fort Pickens. Deadman’s Island also provides passive aquatic recreation. Recreation includes floundering, crabbing and kayaking. The boy scouts, elementary, middle, high school and colleges use the restoration site for environmental education.
Heather Reed, Marine Biologist and Restoration Project Manager with Ecological Consulting Services Inc.(www.ecoconsutlingservices.com), for the City of Gulf Breeze Deadman's Island Restoration Project, of Gulf Breeze Florida. Please write in our guestbook or Like us at www.facebook.com/deadmansisland
In the summer of 2015, one hundred fifty six rebar structures were removed from the waters of Deadman’s Island and two hundred and thirty-eight Ecosystems reefs units, with pilings, were placed within the permitted footprint of the existing state land lease. This project was possible due to the second round of funding provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the project titled Deadman’s Island Part II.
The former pre-oil spill breakwater, the (Reefblks) rebar structures, along the north end decreased in functionality by 95% due to an oyster die-off and increase in the loss of shell being worn down by ongoing wave action. The damage from the non-functional reefs was a domino effect of slow devastation for Deadman’s Island and the hard work of the community.
Consequently, once the oysters died off the reef, the shells fell from the bags, and the shells in the bags were exposed and were tumbled to a smaller size. Since 2011, each year the wave attenuation height of the rebar reefs was reduced, causing erosion of 16,000 cubic yards of sand and thousands of plants in the restoration area. This lack of recovery continued until 2014. The alternative solution was to replace the original live oyster dependent Reefblk reefs with Reefmaker’s Ecosystems. The 2015 project replaced the offshore rebar reefs, which now protect the peninsula from a 4-12 mile fetch. The new breakwater project immediately showed success in attenuating wave action and enhancing fish habitat.
The purpose of the new Ecosystems reefs from past studies show if the reef has no oyster settlement or has a die- off from an environmental stressor, the reefs are still structurally sound and will continue to recruit oysters once the oyster population is established in the bay.
Interestingly, 2015 was the first year the entire ecosystem has shown excellent growth and ecological balance. In 2015, there has been 80% more settlement in oyster spat in all reefs than any previous year. The new Ecosystems reefs obtained 90% settlement within the first three months of placement. The majority of monitoring data from this report does not reflect the new breakwaters placed in August 2015. The 2015 summer monitoring reflects the Ecosystems placed in 2011.
The dune project is continually being monitored to determine the feasibility of rebuilding the dunes, which the past hurricanes washed out. The absence of the dunes leaves the rest of Deadman’s Island and it cultural and natural resources vulnerable to other impacts. The breakwater is expected to reduce the storm surges and additional erosion.
The Deep Water Horizon oil spill (BP Oil Spill) deeply affected the restoration project and the years of hard work by the community. Our fish completely died off and the oysters, which formed and cemented the reef, completely died off in 2011. As shown on the slide above, our rebar oyster reefs have a 70% loss of wave attenuation since the oil spill of 2010.
The pre-2010 oyster reef died off about six months after the spill, and the entire reef, decimated in 2011. The new design of a reef continued the project's breakwater footprint. These reefs are called Ecosystems.
It took two years to get a good population of beneficial reef fish and settlement of small oysters on the new Ecosystems reefs. The 2014 monitoring, shows oyster growth on the post oil spill
reefs but are not market-sized oysters. There are still no oysters on the pre-2010 reefs. The reef is completely useless with a 70% loss of breakwater. Since there were no live oysters to
bond the shells within the bags, the shells tumbled and fell through the bags, lessening the wave attenuation for the breakwater. This loss has caused our newly placed 16,000 cubic yards of
transported sand, to shift and wash away from the ongoing wave action. Thousands of plants were washed away, and once again we are losing our shoreline to erosion. Years of community restoration and
very rare grant funding of 1.2 million is lost due to the oil spill. The City of Gulf Breeze has applied for the early restoration funding and RESTORE funding. This project IS the ONLY
environmental restoration project in Pensacola Bay affected by the oil spill and the proof shows in the pictures. There was much documentation of oil in Pensacola Bay.
Catholic High Make a Difference Day! October 26, 2013
Catholic high students once again joined together to clean up, map and stabilize the shoreline at Deadman's Island. Students were education about the oyster's ability to settle and grow on the reef system and begin to create an flourishing ecosystem by attracting fish, crabs and other marine organisms to create an established nursery and habit- all while protecting the shoreline of Deadman's Island. Students learned the value of shoreline stabilization and had to opportunity to map from reference point the shoreline change. These are valuable educational hands on experiences which help our future generations create more efficient and better ways to save our coastal shoreline and protect our environment.
Jack Joyner, now an honored Eagle Scout, took on the pioneering of the first kiosks. Jack researched and dedicated many hours learning and experimenting on mold making, resin curing, and taking great advantage of the use of unexpected situations in the process. He guided his troop in the tasks of creating, setting up and the underwater deployment of these kiosks. The small grants division of the State of Florida Historic Preservation funded $5000 for the first two historic cultural kiosks. We are seeking additional funding for the other six permitted kiosks. As funding becomes available, the kiosk will feature much information of the environmental resources, aquatic marine organisms, the restoration efforts, historic shipwrecks found only at Deadman's Island. If you would like to donate and have your logo placed inside these forever kiosks. Please contact Heather Reed, Deadman's Island restoration project manager or the City of Gulf Breeze. 850-417-7008 or email@example.com
Happy Earth day!
FAMILY (Earth Night) NIGHT AT CHIC- FIL-A!
Thursday April 25th Chic-Fil-A in Gulf Breeze, will host a
an Earth day themed in-restaurant Family Night from 4 to 8 p.m. (Families come
and go between 5 and 8.) The Cow will be present along with the Mermaid and Seaturtle from the Navarre Beach Marine Science program, The Sea Turtle Conservation Center will have a sea turtle skeletal display and the Master Gardners will have a display on their butterfly gardeners whihc you as a family can create together and enjoy in your backyard. Deadman’s Island will have a display and marine ecosystem ecosystem (Block
Painting marine organisms). TeenSweety (www.teensweety.org) will be sponsoring
some craft items as well so we should have some teen volunteers including Art
students from Gulf Breeze! Come on out to Family night!
Our Latest Activities
What's (SUP)?! :) Stand Up Paddleboard!
As part of the international Paddle for the Planet event (www.paddlefortheplanet.org) ,
SUP’n Girls will be doing their part this upcoming Saturday, June 23, at 9am.
Please join them and help with a beach cleanup and plant vegetation to stabilize the new sand placed to protect Deadman's Island!
The Girl Scouts will be joining us as well!
The SUPN gang will meet at 9am at the beach behind Unique Café at the
base of the GB side of the bay bridge.
If you dont have a stand up paddle board,join us by kayak or meet us at 9am at the boat ramp to be picked up by boat and at 11am to be taken back to the boat ramp.
I need a few volunteer boats and boat drivers to pick up the volunteers at 8:45 and I need a boat driver for the pontoon boat around 7:30 to haul plants and any supplies. Please call or text the Project Manager, Heather Reed to confirm if you can assist with the boats.
Please bring any shovels, trowels, and/or bulb planters. Dont forget your water shoes, and sunscreen!
Please let SUP'n Leader Linda thompson firstname.lastname@example.org or Heather Reed 850-346-2073
whether are able to join them for this incredible opportunity to paddle for our planet!
See you there at Paddle for the Planet event! It's going to be a great day!
Pensacola News Journal by Kimberly Blair
We will be affixing quadrats to the oyster
units with cable ties. Created by GB Eagle Scouts Kyle McKissack and his
We will be meeting at 9am at Wayside Park (Gulf Breeze Boat ramp at the end of
three mile bridge).
OK, Rules and suggestions since we are around water:
You do need to have your own mask and snorkel, glove and water boots
encouraged. Hats, Surf shirts or t-shirts are encouraged to prevent sunburn on
the back. It’s not a good idea to have a lot of sunscreen on and possibly
washing off from people and chancing sunscreen to impact the reef.
It will be high tide but the deepest area is around
five feet. Parents need to be responsible for kids. Divers are welcome for
underwater attachment of the structures but because of depth freedivers are
As usual boats are needed for
transporting people and lunch is sponsored by Lenny’s Sub Shop. Please
RSVP ( or email ) if you
can so I can get a lunch count. I would like to have three lookouts and three
data collectors who prefer not to get in the water.
If you would like to get community services hours for
school or other please bring your form for me to sign.
It should be a really fun day! Hope to see you there!
Wow! Despite the weather, St Francis and St Ann volunteered to have the event
indoors making the quadrats needed to monitor the oysters before the proposed
oil spill impacts Pensacola Bay.
Saturday was such a productive day! The team created
monitoring quadrats AND planting shoreline vegetation! This event was followed
by a wonderful lunch hosted at the home of Robert and Sara Lee Menzer, whose
home overlooks the beautiful Deadman’s Island.
The community of St Ann and St Francis ROCKED! I will
be planning a monitoring event most likely this Saturday or sooner (when the
water calms down) if you are available please let me know. I have no idea how
the oil spill will affect our Bays or this event. I am hoping it wont get here
or possibly be contained beforehand. However, the quadrats you all made are
extremely important to this project and the especially important in helping
with the pre-monitoring of the oysters before any possible spill contamination.
You can view your pictures by
clicking on the link for the
Fr. Paul Lambert
If I have misspelled your name or overlooked someone,
please let me know! Thanks again and I hope you enjoyed having a part
in helping to preserve Deadman’s Island!
Thank you very much!
Hi Friends of Deadman’s
For everyone’s safety, the Project on Saturday has been canceled.
Unfortunately, the weather forecast shows Thunderstorms from Friday to Tuesday.
If you have any questions please call Heather Reed
Good Morning Friends of Deadman’s Island!
I wanted to thank everyone all your hard work and
dedication to the Shoreline Stabilization project on Saturday. This project
could not have happened without you! Saturday was such a productive day and has
jump started this year’s stabilization efforts! Everyone worked extremely hard
and Donna DeSeno has proof! Donna did a fantastic job taking pictures.
Here are some highlights of Saturday- everything was
performed at high tide and in the water!
A total of 48 Volunteers-
200ft of coir logs created and placed along the
shoreline for plant protection
1000 plants were not just planted, but two layers of
geo material were cut into, dirt was placed in these holes and then the
vegetation was planted!
500 ft of turbidity curtain was moved, repositioned and
re-anchored using what was already present
Very heavy remnants of the curtain that were ripped off
and hanging from the old curtain, were brought back on shore
There was an “Island wide” trash cleanup
afterwards–compliments of Troop 10 boyscouts and James Neyman
UWF students rocked! Gary Ghioto Class!
Chain Reaction was fantastic!
A special thanks to our boat drivers and those who
donated their boats and time to the project the day before and the day of to
The Deseno Family for the pictures
The Pardonner Family
I did not have Jennifer Dragoo or Micheal Hobbs email
so if someone knows them and can pass this email, that would be greatly
I doubt I will ever have work as hard as Saturday’s
efforts, since YOU have set the foundation for this summer’s stabilization
The rest of the events will be easy and I would love to
have you back! May 1st will be our next event.
We may be creating more of the Ecodiscs!
If you would like to come out to snorkel and monitor
(count fish, oysters, crabs, drills) next month (this month is too cold and
will be just myself) please send me an email if you are interested.
Shoreline vegetation planting-Note:Our future plantings
will not consist of cutting through the Geo fabric and will consist of just
digging sand and planting
Spring is coming! 2010 will be a busy year for
the City of Gulf Breeze’s Deadman’s Island Restoration Project and schools and
volunteers are needed!
Please call if you have any contacts for students
(middle school to high school) and volunteers for the upcoming months :
March- help place fossilized and recycled oyster shells
in oyster molds for the new structures
April- planting all sorts of vegetation from Mean high
water to Dune plants
Summer- snorkelers and certified divers to help count
fish, oysters, hermit crabs,oyster drills etc- they will learn important
scientific monitoring techniques
I am building hurricane tolerant bird habitats- still
in design- but I need people who are familar with birds and bird habitat whom
can help with the best design for the types of birds encountered on Deadman’s
Island. Deadman’s Island is considered a migratory drop zone for birds.
Westin DeMotts headed up a rather large Eagle
Scout project focusing on erosion control or the shoreline of Deadman’s
Island. Due to the Ida storm his project had to be modified to reflect
the current erosion. Westin and his team placed bio-mesh to catch sand
and build up about 500 linear feet of shoreline. after the placement on
Saturday, the following Monday the area collected sand in the places it was
needed most to build up the isthmus.
Also the group also worked to secure a root system Ida
had exposed. The group used geo-fabric and boi-mesh to secure the area
and allow further sand accumulation for a later planting project.
Scouts and volunteers who attended.
The temperatures change each year and cause a
spawning for the area Bay’s oysters. The breakwaters were placed just in time
for this spawning. Within one week of deployment, barnacles were settling on
the rebar and oysters shell. Today, I notice millions of oyster spat (>1/4″)
were attached to the recycled oyster shell and fossilized oyster shell!
The Eastern Oyster “juvenile” in the water column after
fertilization is called trochophore larvae then goes into the water colunm
which then it is called a veliger once the veliger places a “foot” on the
settlement substrate it is called a pediveliger. Once the pediveliger has
settled it is called oyster spat. What you see on docks and other
areas after a spawn is called spat. Two weeks later, it’s called an
I keep getting calls about how to continue to help out
at Deadman’s Island. If you are snorkeling near the reef and see fish- please
note the date, number tag on the structure found, number and type of fish (if
known) and email to me at email@example.com.
This is important data in which I can add to the current monitoring data. I can
never have enough. Please contact me if you are interested in scheduling fish
Great job everyone for helping to create this reef
structure to help protect Deadman’s Island! The reef is doing it’s
anticipated job of blocking the destructive underwater current. This
current has caused significant erosion to the north end of Deadman’s
Island destroying 100 year sand oak trees and causing them to topple into the
water. ~Heather Reed
Saturday August 29, 2009 22
divers and snorkelers showed up bright and early to help anchor the newly
placed oyster structures at Deadman’s Island. There is a total of
156 structures and all outside anchors were placed and 10 inside anchors were
placed. We have 146 more inside anchors to go! If you
would like to volunteer to place these anchors please call Project Manager,
Heather Reed at . Diving
can be during the week or on the weekend depending on boat availabilty.
Look forward to seeing you there!