Crab Island emergency corridor buoys cut loose

Annie Blanks | 315-4450 | @DestinLogAnnie |
A buoy floats in the current in July at Crab Island. NICK TOMECEK/DAILY NEWS

Nearly all of the buoys installed this summer to create the emergency corridor at Crab Island have been cut loose, according to county officials.

James Puckett, facility and parks maintenance manager for Okaloosa County Public Works, which is in charge of the corridor, said only four of the original 32 buoys remain attached to their anchors.

He said he believes boats anchoring to the buoys are inadvertently pulling them off their anchors. The Coast Guard finds the buoys floating loose and has been keeping them in their possession at the Coast Guard station.

“What has happened is that when we first put them in is there were some boats that anchored to some of those buoys, and they snapped the cable,” Puckett said. “So the contractor came out, increased the size of the cable and had them reinstalled.”

However, those buoys were snapped loose as well, Puckett said. And because it’s the end of the tourist season, officials are going to wait until next year to reinstall the corridor buoys, and will do so with even thicker steel cables.

“There are still some folks that are not sure what (the emergency corridor) is for,” Puckett said. “We did see a few people that anchored inside it … the Sherriff’s Office Marine Unit and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have been trying to educate the public on what it is for. I think as we continue year after year everybody will understand what it’s for.”

Okaloosa County Public Information Officer Kathy Newby said county officials do not suspect anybody has been intentionally cutting the buoys loose.

“(The Public Works department) doesn’t think that they were stolen or that the cables were cut,” Newby said. “They think they arbitrarily become loose and they lose them.”