Destin officials sunk a 180-foot ship to create an artificial reef

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DESTIN, Fla. (WMBB) – The retired research vessel MANTA sank to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico early Sunday morning.

The 180-foot-long vessel sat rusting in a shipyard until Destin officials bought it to use as an artificial reef.

We’re trying to take advantage of them, mostly at scrap prices, and use them, clean them up and deploy them as artificial reefs,” said Alex Fogg, coastal resources manager for the Department of Development. Okaloosa County Tourism. “It’s really a great opportunity for a destination.”

About 40 people from the Southeast were on board a charter boat to watch the MANTA sink.

“It was really great,” said Vivienne Williams, executive director of the Destin History and Fishing Museum. “It’s the first time I’ve seen it, so it’s really special. It made some very interesting sounds that I never thought would come from a sinking ship. Of course, it was fun to watch all the air bubbles afterwards.

The ship now lies at a depth of just over 100 feet and will be a universal underwater attraction.

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