Shipwrecks in Florida: Experience the Thrilling Depths


Dive into the mysterious depths of Florida’s waters and discover a world frozen in time. Here, beneath the sparkling, sun-dappled surface, history and adventure intertwine in the form of shipwreck Florida adventure waiting to be explored as nature slowly takes over. 

History Beneath the Waves

Photographing a shipwreck in the florida keys national marine sanctuary
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Florida and its Keys are known for their crystal-clear water and top-tier dive sites. Molasses Reef, French Reef, and Elbow Reef, where the City of Washington shipwreck remains, are three of the very few dive sites among the best. However, another mode of diving can be done in Florida, away from the usual reef dives. 

Florida’s coastline, known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic,” holds a multitude of stories etched into its seabed. From the earliest Spanish treasure shipwrecks laden with gold and jewels to World War II vessels, these shipwrecks have become submerged time capsules. These historic pieces can be another thing to dive into.

Florida is also famous for the Florida Keys shipwreck trail. The shipwrecks serve an ecological purpose as part of an artificial reef program. These sunken vessels provide a habitat for marine life, ranging from the first key to the tip of Key West. They form the backbone of flourishing underwater ecosystems where coral reefs and countless species of reef fish find refuge.

The Allure of the Deep: Why Dive Florida and the Florida Keys’ Shipwrecks?

Florida shipwreck
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Florida’s shipwrecks offer a unique blend of history, adventure, and natural beauty. Each wreck carries its own narrative, from tales of maritime battles and storms to stories of trade and discovery. 

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or a wildlife lover, diving Florida’s Shipwrecks promises a surreal experience. Seeing ships above water for too long can be trippy after seeing one underwater. 

Artificial Reefs and Marine Life

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Shipwrecks can also be seen from a different perspective. Coral polyps tend to search for hard substrates where they can attach and start to grow. Wrecks can serve as the substrate where corals and other sessile organisms can attach themselves.

Wrecks can host diverse aquatic life both inside and outside the vessels, acting as artificial reefs. Inside the shafts and alleys, nurse sharks can be seen resting, while larger pelagic fish are seen outside looking for prey to stray away from the structure. 

Spotlight on Shipwreck Florida Experience

The turquoise waters of Key Largo and the Florida Keys are home to some of the most impressive shipwrecks in Florida. Here, divers can embark on an underwater journey through time.

The Spiegel Grove 

A former military vessel of the Navy that was deliberately sunk to create an artificial reef. Over the years, this 510-foot-long giant has become a vibrant marine habitat. Divers can explore its multiple decks, brimming with schools of colorful fish darting between the nooks and crannies.

The Benwood 

A World War II shipwreck residing in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The wreck is scattered across the sandy bottom, creating an eerie yet fascinating sight. The wreckage is adorned with sponge and coral colonies, creating a kaleidoscope of colors against the rusted metal.

The Duane 

A retired Coast Guard cutter that was also intentionally sunk to form a reef. Today, it stands upright in its watery grave, its majestic structure attracting both marine life and divers alike. This sheep rests on the reaches of Molasses Reef. 

The Eagle

The Eagle Wreck is another shipwreck that offers an exciting dive, with its structure broken in two thanks to Hurricane George. Its split is another perspective where divers can immediately see the interiors of the ship without getting into its rooms and windows. 

The City of Washington 

It is a historic shipwreck that met its fate in 1917. Today, its skeletal remains provide a glimpse into the past, while its structure is a thriving hub for aquatic life.

The San Pedro

This Spanish treasure shipwreck attracts divers because of its deep historical significance as a member of a treasure fleet that was destroyed by a hurricane in the Straits of Florida in the 18th century. 

Diving Safely: What You Need to Know

While the allure of shipwreck diving is undeniable, it’s necessary to prioritize safety. Diving into shipwrecks involves navigating through enclosed spaces, which can pose risks. 

Divers must be adequately trained and equipped for such dives. Always dive with a buddy, maintain a safe depth, and be aware of your surroundings. It’s also crucial to respect the site and avoid disturbing marine life or the wreck itself.

Some dive operators only allow advanced open-water divers for deep wreck dives. A wreck dive sounds more complex than it actually is since it involves navigating through enclosed spaces, which can pose risks. Depth is also another factor. Beginner divers are only allowed to dive in shallow wrecks. 

How to Choose Dive Operators

Selecting the right dive operator can change a lot for your wreck diving experience. Here are some things that experienced divers do when traveling:

  1. Research online reviews and testimonials to gauge the company’s reputation and customer satisfaction. Look for operators with experienced and certified instructors who prioritize safety protocols. 
  2. Consider their range of dive sites and equipment quality to match your skill level and interests. Personal recommendations from fellow divers can be valuable too. 
  3. Inquire about group sizes and the level of personalized attention offered. Opting for a reputable and well-rounded dive operator will undoubtedly enhance your Florida diving adventure.

Preserving Key Largo’s Underwater Heritage

A fish swims by a ship wreck in the ocean
A fish swims by a ship wreck in the ocean

Shipwrecks tend to be more fragile than they look. They are also prone to damage, and others harm them when no rules are imposed properly. After many years of lying on the bottom of the sea, corrosion can slowly wither the structural integrity of these wrecks. 

These wrecks hold historical, archaeological, and biological value that contributes to our understanding of the past. As scuba divers, doing your part to preserve and promote their heritage is a priority. 

Here are some ways to preserve our underwater heritage:

  • Avoid touching or disturbing the shipwreck: Even the slightest touch can cause damage to these fragile structures. Remember, these are historical artifacts that have withstood the test of time and harsh ocean conditions.
  • Do not remove any artifacts: It’s illegal to remove artifacts from shipwrecks in many areas. These relics are part of the shipwreck’s historical narrative, and removing them disrupts the archaeological context.
  • Mind your fins: Be mindful of where you’re kicking to avoid stirring up the sediment. This can reduce visibility and damage the delicate marine habitats on and around the shipwreck.
  • Follow good buoyancy control practices: Having good buoyancy control can prevent accidental contact with a shipwreck or ocean life.
  • Participate in conservation efforts: Support marine conservation initiatives, contribute to clean-up dives, and advocate for the protection of these underwater sites.

Preserving these sites ensures that future generations can also experience the thrill of diving into history and marvel at the rich biodiversity these shipwrecks support.

Explore Florida’s Wrecks with WildVoice

A school of fish living amongst the coral and shipwreck
A school of fish living amongst the coral and shipwreck

Florida’s shipwrecks offer an exciting journey into the past, filled with adventure, discovery, and awe-inspiring sights. They are portals into a world frozen in time, where each dive uncovers a new chapter of history and showcases the stunning biodiversity of Florida’s waters.

But these underwater treasures are delicate and require our respect and care. By adhering to responsible diving practices, we can help preserve these historical sites and the vibrant marine life they support.

So, why wait? Dive into Florida’s vibrant underwater world and experience the thrilling depths of its shipwrecks. Check out WildVoice, as it knows the best dive centers around Florida that can make your wreck dive the best you’ll ever have. WildVoice is also an advocate for marine conservation and the historical preservation of shipwrecks around Florida.   

Frequently Asked Question

What is the best time of year to dive in Florida?

The best time to dive in Florida is during the summer months, when the waters are warmer and visibility is at its best. However, Florida offers good diving conditions year-round.

How can I learn to dive?

You can learn to dive by enrolling in a certified scuba diving course. Many diving centers in Florida offer courses for beginners.

How can I support marine conservation in Florida?

You can support marine conservation by respecting aquatic life during your dives, participating in beach clean-ups, donating to conservation organizations, or advocating for marine protection policies.

What equipment do I need for wreck diving?

For wreck diving, you need standard scuba equipment along with a dive light, a wreck reel, and a dive knife. It’s also recommended to have a dive computer for monitoring depth and dive time.

What are some safety tips for wreck diving?

Safety tips for wreck diving include getting the necessary training, diving with a buddy, checking your equipment before the dive, adhering to your dive plan, and respecting your limits.

Are there guided tours for wreck diving in Florida?

Yes, many dive centers in Florida offer guided tours for wreck diving. Experienced guides who ensure your safety and improve your diving experience lead these tours.

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