ORANGE BEACH, Ala. – The Weather Channel is introducing a new series “Reef Wranglers,” set in Orange Beach and premiering Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 8 p.m.
Set off the coast of Alabama, “Reef Wranglers,” (formerly “Reefmakers”) follows a family of experienced divers and demolition experts at Walter Marine in Orange Beach who work to reduce erosion and pollution and to restore the area’s once thriving ecosystem by creating artificial reefs – sinking everything from a Vietnam-era plane to a local shrimp boat.
Owner David Walter and his crew hope to sink the 270-foot LuLu, a former freighter, in the Gulf sometime this summer and it may be a part of future “Reef Wrangler” show.
In June residents of Pleasure Island were thrilled at the site of the Yokamu, a 271-foot freighter, being towed from Mobile Bay to Orange Beach along the Intracoastal Waterway.
Walter had it towed to his business and was looking for $500,000 to cover the cost of sinking it. By December the Alabama Gulf Coast Reef and Restoration Foundation, a newly formed organization to build artificial reefs in the area, had accomplished that goal.
A naming-sponsor donation from Mac McAleer of LuLu’s came in to the tune of $250,000 and the ship is now The LuLu. The hope is to sink it in June while cameras from the “Reef Maker” reality are rolling to give Pleasure Island valuable TV exposure.
Vince Lucido, chairman of the commission, said the ship will bring in a different group of tourists further expanding the island’s offerings.
“A different type of business, something that we haven’t really developed like Panama City or Pensacola or Destin,” he said. “Panama City is one of the biggest dive training areas there is. All the stores from all over the country bring their students there for the initial training. It’s a big business there.”
And Lucido thinks it can be big business here, too.
The Gulf of Mexico is a breeding ground for bad weather and conditions that change suddenly. Often battling hurricane-force winds, these men and women risk life and limb to sink custom reef systems to enhance the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystem, according to a release by the Weather Channel. Produced by Gurney Productions (“Ragin’ Cajuns,” “American Guns”), “Reef Wranglers” will feature four 30-minute episodes.
“Reef Wranglers” joins an ever-growing slate of original series for The Weather Channel, including “Coast Guard Alaska,” “Coast Guard Florida,” “Hawaii Air Rescue,” “Hurricane Hunters,” “Ice Pilots,” “Iceberg Hunters,” “Iron Men,” “Lifeguard!,” “Plane Xtreme,” “Pyros” and “Turbine Cowboys,” as well as upcoming series “Deadliest Space Weather” which first aired on Jan. 10, “Hacking the Planet” on Feb. 28, “Prospectors” on March 5, “Reel Rivals” in May and “Tipping Points” in October.