HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. – After building reef balls put in the Gulf waters off Hernando County, a group of teens is hard at work monitoring them.

  • Teen volunteer monitor artificial reefs off Hernando coast
  • Part of the SCUBAnauts program
  • Volunteers check on the different fish species

It’s all part of the SCUBAnauts program.

"If I hadn't been in this program I would not be as mature as I am today," Sarah Vinson said.

SCUBAnauts is a science education program for teens across the state that focuses on diving.
Vinson is one of the older students in the program.

"What we're doing isn't just for fun for us to learn other people benefit off of it were doing this work for Hernando county," she said.
These students dove into the gulf to check on reef balls they helped make and install last year.

Their job is to check on the different fish species that use the reef balls. The county hopes the area can be used for fishing or snorkeling for Hernando County residents.

"There aren't a lot of natural coral reefs so for us to give an artificial but natural feeling home to fish that are indigenous to the bay is really important because if we don't have those indigenous species we suffer as a community," Vinson said.

"It's a lot of work but when you're out in the field conducting all this research it doesn't feel like it, it just feels like you're going out having fun and at the same time doing something to help the environment," Blaine Miller added.

And for many of these students, getting to experience something like this has only enhanced their passion for the environment.

Local nonprofits are helping with transportation costs, so getting the teens out on the water doesn’t cost Hernando County anything.