KEY LARGO & UPPER KEYS - A Diving Destination
In this 'Dive travel' adventure series we take you to the sky with a helicopter ride over Key Largo, the northern most island of the Florida Keys island chain, and fly over Molasses Reef, one of many reefs just off shore. Said to be the world's most popular dive site, Molasses Reef is kept clear by the Gulf Stream off the Atlantic coast of Key Largo. Populated with a very high concentration of animals and corals (especially star & Elkhorn coral), the reef's inhabitants area good representation of life throughout the Keys. Look for vase sponges and the sea turtles that flock to them.
Our diving tour of the upper keys begins with a stop at Marathon, where we visit the Thunderbolt wreck and area reefs. The Thunderbolt is a 188' (57.3 meters) military ship is the jewel of the Marathon wreck fleet. Sunk intentionally as a dive attraction in March 1986, she now sits perfectly upright in 115' (35 meters) of water offering 45' (13.7 meters) of relief. Diver superstructure is now coated with colorful sponge, coral, and hydroid, providing refuge and sustenance to large angelfish, jacks, and a variety of deep-water pelagic creatures.
Then it's on to Islamorada, known as the 'sport fishing capitol of the world,' where we dive the Eagle wreck. The Eagle sits on her starboard side in 105' to 115' (32 to 35 meters) of water. The shallowest points of the wreck are at 65' to 70' (20 to 21.3 meters). The wreck is broken into two pieces, but was over 250' (76.2 meters) long and 40' (12.2 meters) wide. It is generally well-lit and divers report seeing amberjacks, grunts, silversides, cobia, jewfish, and nurse sharks. The masses of coral that have grown on the ship are well-developed. Spiny oysters and sponges abound.
In Key Largo, the diving capitol, we visit the "Christ of the Abyss" underwater statue in the John Pennekamp Coral Reef Preserve. The approximate nine foot (two and three quarter meter) bronze sculpture symbolizes peace of mankind from its unusual setting. The statute stands in 25' (7.6 meters) of water beneath the ocean at Key Largo Dry Rocks.
While in Key Largo, we also dive the largest artificial reef site in the U.S., the gigantic 510' (155.5 meters) Spiegel Grove. The Spiegel Grove wreck is one of the most accessible and popular dives in Key Largo. It lies in shallow enough water so that beginner divers can dive this wreck. It's very close to theGulf Stream, so it attracts large fish, plus things like manta rays and hammerhead sharks. On a clear day (meaning clear visibility in the water) you can see her from the surface. On our last day of diving we take you on a shark feed where we encounter several Nurse Sharks, a 250 lb (113.4 kg) Goliath Grouper and Barracuda. Join us for all the fun!