By Mya Hohman
Meet David and Stewart Walter, proud owners of Walter Marine in Orange Beach, Alabama.
This father and son pair have been in the reef business for more than 30 years. Walter Marine or (REEFMAKER) designs and constructs artificial reefs for our Gulf Coast area and beyond.
Today, it is the largest reef builder in the United States. The Reefmaker/Walter Marine deployed its first artificial reef in 1986.
David Walter estimated the company is responsible for more than 40,000 reefs of various types deployed in Gulf Coast waters over the past three decades. Those reefs have attracted untold numbers of fish and other sea life to once-barren areas. “It makes you feel like you have a purpose, that you are doing something matters,” Walter said.
Walter Marine built the Perdido Key snorkel reef using concrete discs covered in Florida limestone. The discs are stacked on pilings and placed about 10 to 20 feet apart.
Along with Walter Marine’s work for local governments, the company creates dozens of private reefs every year. Some of the reefs are memorials paid for by families in tribute to their loved ones.
Walter Marine has contracted upcoming jobs for the State of Alabama to construct 120 super reefs. The super reefs will be 18 tons each and will be designed as fishing reefs. These reefs will be placed along the Alabama Gulf Coast.
Today Alabama’s artificial reef zone is responsible for over 40 percent of all Red Snapper. If you consider Alabama only has 1.5 percent of the coastline those are not bad numbers. This is all possible due to private artificial reefs. They have also signed a contract to build $1.5 million in fishing reefs for Escambia county in the near future.
In April 2011, one year after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP agreed to provide up to $1 billion toward Early Restoration projects in the Gulf of Mexico. Some of these projects are artificial reefs.
Walter Marine has four divisions:
1. Fishing Reefs – From 4,000 to 40,000 lbs, 6 to 25 feet tall and all types – Pyramids, Grouper Reefs, EcoSystem Discs
2. Ship Deployments – 22 ships/large vessels successfully deployed
3. Snorkeling Reefs – The only US Army Corps approved Snorkeling Reef
4. Wave Attenuators – The best wave attenuator on the market today, doesn’t block waves, but turns wave energy into smooth water. Can’t sink, turn over or move, plus provides a superior substrate for oysters and other marine life to live and grow.
The company is located at 22605 Andrews Lane in Orange Beach.