• Miami/Dade County Dive Sites:

                                                         

The city of Miami in the southern United States is famed for having some of the best wreck diving worldwide. It is also home to the third largest barrier reef in the world, and the only one in North America: The Florida Straits. The variety wrecks and reefs are all located along the shoreline of Miami-Dade county and South Beach, and cater towards all levels of divers. South of Miami are the Florida Keys, which include numerous patch reefs and coral mounds that are perfect for snorkeling and beginner dives.

The local Department of Environmental Resource Management (DERM) has invested considerable resources into further developing the region with artificial reefs. Since beginning this initiative in 1981, DERM has sunk ships, tugs, army tanks, an airplane and even manmade concrete reefs. This has sparked the growth of corals and has attracted diverse marine life, making for incredible scuba diving.

As a thriving metropolis with white sandy beaches, Miami draws tourists in for much more than the diving. It is well worth spending a few days on land to explore the city – and it is a great spot for families as well!

Miami known as the “Wreck Capital of the Americas” is one of Florida’s top dive spots. There are a wide variety of wrecks that were intentionally sunk in an effort to restore marine life and stunt further erosion. Intermediate and advanced divers best explore these wrecks, while beginner divers are generally happier in the shallow reefs of the southern Florida Keys.

The reef itself – the Florida Straits – is the third largest barrier reef in the world, and the only one in North America. There are over 75 diveable wrecks within minutes of the Miami shoreline, the Florida Keys are just over an hour away. Key Largo, the first of the islands, exists within the John Pennekap Coral Reef Park, and boasts over 600 species of tropical fish. With plenty of swim throughs, coral caves and deep holes, in addition to clear waters thanks to the Gulf Stream, diving the Keys truly is world class.

 

Army Tank #1:

Average Depth: 48 ft. / 15 m

Max Depth: 48 ft. / 15 m

This is one of two M60 Army Tanks placed in 48 feet of water in June of 1994 just of Miami Beach.

At the same time that the tanks were placed in this location, the Department of Environmental Resource Management (DERM) also placed 1060 tons of lime rock boulders next to the tanks. The result is an area prolific with life. Lobsters are abundant both on the tanks in within the boulders, able to easily hide from their predators. Although the tanks have only been underwater for 6 years, they look as if they have been here since the last World War. They have an incredible amount of growth, including spiny oysters, sponges and both a variety of hard and soft corals.

 

Almirante Wreck:

Depth in Feet: 110 - 135 ft

Depth in Meters: 34 - 41 m

Skill Level: Technical

Almirante is a 200-foot steel freighter that was sunk off of Elliot Key in 1974. Although the wreck was originally in immaculate condition with beautiful coral growth, Hurricane Andrew picked her up and dumped her upside down on the bottom in 1992. Since then, sea life has re-inhabited this vessel making it a great site once again. There are many areas of twisted metal which are great for exploration. Depths reach below 135 feet making this a dive for a more experienced diver. Red gorgonians, jewfish, and many other varieties of pelagic life call this ship home.

 

DEMA Trader:

The DEMA Trader (formerly known as the GGD Trader) is a 165-foot-long freighter in 80 feet of water about 3 1/2 miles off Key Biscayne.

The ship was seized by U.S. Customs for carrying drugs, and was renamed DEMA Trader after the Dive Equipment and Marketing Association annual convention held in Miami Beach on October of 2003. She was sunk October 28, 2003. The ship is keel down in the sand with the stern lying in 80 feet of water and the bow in 75 feet of water. Large openings were cut in the sides of the superstructure to allow safe penetration dives into the former galley and cabin areas. Tons of concrete culvert pipes and junction boxes were loaded into the ship The DEMA Trader (formerly known as the GGD Trader) is a 165-foot-long freighter in 80 feet of water about 3 1/2 miles off Key Biscayne. The ship is keel down in the sand with the stern lying in 80 feet of water and the bow in 75 feet of water. Large openings were cut in the sides of the superstructure to allow safe penetration dives into the former galley and cabin areas. Tons of concrete culvert pipes and junction boxes were loaded into the ship’s cargo hold, creating ballast in case of storms, and providing more habitat than just an open cargo hold. The ship has a large profile making it easy to find with a decent fish finder. Most of the dive can be seen at 60 feet of water. Great dive’s cargo hold, creating ballast in case of storms, and providing more habitat than just an open cargo hold. The ship has a large profile making it easy to find with a decent fish finder. Most of the dive can be seen at 60 feet of water. Great dive!

 

Arida:

Depth in Feet: 88 ft

Depth in Meters: 27 m

The Arida was a 165 foot sister ship to the Lakeland which was sunk in August of 1982. Like the Lakeland, she was a landing craft utility vessel (LCU) from the Vietnam War era. She sits in 88 feet of water and offers 25 feet of relief laying on her side, but over the years she has been torn apart by storms and much of the ship has collapsed.

 

Ultra Freeze:

Depth in Feet: 135 ft

Depth in Meters: 40 m

Skill Level: Novice

The Ultra Freeze is a steeled hulled, 195' freighter with 45 feet of superstructure still attached. She was placed in the RJ Diving Ventures artificial reef site by the South Florida Spearfishing Council in the summer of 1984.

 

Two M60 Army Tanks:

Depth in Feet: 48 ft

Depth in Meters: 15 m

Skill Level: Novice

At the same time that the tanks were placed in this location, the Department of Environmental Resource Management (DERM) also placed 1060 tons of lime rock boulders next to the tanks. The result is an area prolific with life. Lobsters are abundant both on the tanks in within the boulders, able to easily hide from their predators. Although the tanks have only been underwater for 6 years, they look as if they have been here since the last World War. They have an incredible amount of growth, including spiny oysters, sponges and both a variety of hard and soft corals.

 

Tortuga:

Depth in Feet: 95 - 110 ft

Depth in Meters: 29 - 34 m

Skill Level: Advanced

The Tortuga is sometimes called the Fair Game ship because its explosion and sinking in 1995 was used as the final scene in the movie Fair Game, starring Cindy Crawford and William Baldwin. The 165 foot steel ship is a part of the Pflueger Artificial Reef Site located about five miles North of Government Cut.

The Tortuga is upright in 110 feet of water with the deck at about 90 feet. The large openings in the ship make this wreck fairly easy for the trained wreck diver to penetrate. The wheelhouse can be explored and the twin propellers are intact. There is a good amount of growth and abundant marine life. Divers report spotting Boxfish, Snapper, and Barracuda.

 

Tenneco Towers:

Depth in Feet: 110 ft

Depth in Meters: 33.5 m

Skill Level: Advanced

The Tenneco Towers are among the most unique Miami scuba diving wrecks, and they dually serve as the understood northern boundary for Miami-based dive operators. The "Tenneco Towers" are actually old Tenneco Oil Platforms, and in their past lives they served in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1985, Tenneco Oil Company moved the platforms to the Miami coast, with the sole purpose of sinking them to create artificial reefs. This is a dive to be made by intermediate and advanced divers, as the depth of the three separate towers ranges from 110-190 feet. The platforms, having been submerged for 22 years, offer a novel diving experience among their coral-covered rungs, and they harbor a variety of sea life such as barracuda and bull sharks, as well as hundreds of species of fish.

 

Tacoma:

Depth in Feet: 110 - 120 ft

Depth in Meters: 34 - 37 m

Skill Level: Advanced

The Tacoma is a 165-foot steel freighter that was sunk in 2002. This wreck remains in good condition and intact. Big game fish are often found on this dive because it is rarely visited. The dive goes down to 120 feet. Tacoma was seized as part of the Operation River Walk, a drug confiscation mission. This dive is fairly deep and great for seeing pelagic life and the beauty that lies underwater.

 

Steane D'Auray AKA St. Anne:

Depth in Feet: 40 - 68 ft

Depth in Meters: 12 - 21 m

Skill Level: Novice, Intermediate and Advanced

The Steane D'Auray, often referred to as the "St. Anne", is a 110 foot North Atlantic trawler, sunk in only 68 feet of water. It has over 28 feet of relief and is basically still intact. There is still a picturesque air vent on the port side, the perfect backdrop for the underwater photographer. Some of the wreck has been torn apart and scattered across the bottom in the sand after Hurricane Andrew in August of 1992.

The St. Anne was sunk on March 28, 1986 and has a tremendous amount of growth. The rich nutrients of the Gulfstream have brought an abundance of life to her structure. Brilliant soft corals undulate in the current while the dark passageways beckon you to investigate her inner structure.

 

Spirit of Miami:

Depth in Feet: 110 ft

Depth in Meters: 33 m

Skill Level: Advanced

The Spirit of Miami is a 727 jet airplane sunk in the Key Biscayne Artificial Reef Site by DERM (Department of Environmental Resource Management) on September 8, 1993.

 

South Seas:

Depth in Feet: 75 ft

Depth in Meters: 23 m

Skill Level: Advanced

One of the more infamous of Miami's artificial reefs, the "South Seas" sits in 73 feet of water off Key Biscayne in the artificial reef site with the same name.

This vessel is a 175 foot luxury yacht that was built back in 1928 for the Guggenheim family. It is the sister ship and exact replica of Adolph Hitler's private yacht. The ship changed hands over the years and was even owned by the Woolworth family at one point. By the 1980's the ship had deteriorated greatly, at that time over 50 years old. Although investors bought her to restore her, she sank in a Miami canal and it was finally decided that the ship be donated to DERM, Department of Environmental Resource Management. Sunk in February 1983, the South Seas has been scattered across the sand bottom over the years, however, the area is still shrouded by baitfish and barracudas. Because of its shallow depth of less than 73 feet, is a good dive for novices.

 

Sheri-Lyn:

Depth in Feet: 75 - 90 ft

Depth in Meters: 23 - 27 m

Skill Level: Advanced

In 90 feet of water lays Sheri-Lynn, a 235-foot freighter. It took 400 pounds of high-explosives to bring this ship down. Dutch-built, she carried a small crew as she was launched in 1952 and used for shipping. When she had been docked for several years without use, it was assumed that this ship was abandoned and ownership was gained by the Department of Environmental Resource Management. The vessel took a hard hit from Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and was spread across a wide area. Her bow lies 60 feet away from the rest of the wreck. This allowed for increased marine life to inhabit the remains. Although prior to this she was intact and upright, she now has a larger variety of sea life. She has many foot holes cut through bulkheads that allow for exploration. South of the bow lies 50 Chevron tanks, each 30 feet long and 8 feet in diameter with the ends cut off. Twenty cement-mixer tanks also lie nearby. The variety of wreckage provides home to large amounts of pelagic life.

 

Rio Miami:

Depth in Feet: 50 - 80 ft

Depth in Meters: 15 - 24 m

Skill Level: Novice, Intermediate and Advanced

Rio Miami was featured on a 1989 episode of 20/20 where Hugh Downs detonated the ship for sinking and dove the site less than 24 hours later. The remote-controlled detonation with which Downs sunk the ship was the first of this type to be used. The publicity brought some popularity to this location. Today, this 105-foot tug lies in 72 feet of water after being shifted by Hurricane Andrew. She is upright and her cabin and ladders are intact and rise up to 30 feet from the surface. This is one of the most intact wrecks in the area and is easily penetrated. Barracudas, angelfish, jewfish, grunts, yellowtails, colorful sponges, sea fans and many forms of hard and soft corals are just some of the beautiful organisms that can be seen on this dive.

 

Proteus:

Depth in Feet: 60 - 75 ft

Depth in Meters: 18 - 23 m

Skill Level: Advanced

The Proteus is a 220' freighter sunk in the Key Biscayne Artificial Reef Site on January 24, 1985. This site is one of the shallower wrecks dives in South Florida, resting in only 72' of water with at least 30' of relief (top deck is at 50'). This artificial reef site makes an excellent opportunity for the novice wreck diver and serves as a great introduction to Miami's exceptional collection of artificial reefs. She was once a ferry boat on the Great Lakes before carrying freight and supplies between the Caribbean islands. Most of her superstructure was removed to allow maximum cargo space, but the ship failed to make a profit resulting in bankruptcy in 1980. The freighter sat on the Miami River for 5 years as a derelict vessel behind Bud's Auto Parts on 34th Avenue. During its tenure as Bud's garbage barge, thousands of license plates were thrown into the ship from the auto shop. Although most of the plates have been salvaged by sport divers as souvenirs, if you look close you may still be able to find one laying in the hold to this day. Resting on a sandy bottom, not far from the popular Biscayne wreck, the Proteus was broken into several large pieces by the forces of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Since the structure spread out over a wider area, more marine life seems to have taken up residence in the various twisted metal remains of the wreck. Moray eels, schooling grunts, barracudas, angelfish and the occasional groups can be found within the wreck and around debris field.

 

Princess Britany:

Depth in Feet: 65 - 90 ft

Depth in Meters: 20 - 27 m

Skill Level: Advanced

The 165-foot freighter, Princess Britney, was donated by Customs and Border Protection to the Miami-Dade Artificial Reef Program and now lies 90 feet below the surface of the water. She lies about 3.5 miles off the coast of Key Biscayne. This ship was seized in 2002 during Operation River Walk when more than 70 kilograms of cocaine were found hidden inside. The expected value of these drugs was $1.3 million. This is a new wreck which was sunk in 2003 and has not had much time to form a reef. However, sea life immediately found this wreck and made it their new home. Barracudas in large numbers and giant basket stars are a couple of the organisms that are often seen by divers who explore this site.

 

Pipes:

Depth in Feet: 45 ft

Depth in Meters: 15 m

Skill Level: Novice

These left over sewer pipes were disposed of just offshore south of Government Cut where they have sort of "stacked up" on top of each other in about 55 feet of water. The growth on the structures is incredible as the open pipes allow uninhibited flow of water and thus nutrients. Oysters, clams, sponges and the associated invertebrates are abundant and growing not only on the outside, but all along the inside of the pipes. Fish congregate on the adjacent reef and moray eels and lobster are a common occurrence here. The inside of the pipes are literally full of gorgonians attached to the sides, making it difficult, but not impossible to swim through. Yes, the pipes are large enough for a diver to comfortably navigate. It is truly amazing how these discarded sewer pipes have turned into a base for prolific life. These all-concrete pipes not only attract varied and numerous marine-life to the area, but if placed closer to shore would also prevent the erosion of the sand beach.

 

Patricia:

Depth in Feet: 33 - 53 ft

Depth in Meters: 10 - 16 m

Skill Level: Novice

The Patricia was sunk in the artificial reef site known as Anchorage, located north of Government Cut and south of Haulover Islet in approximately 53 feet of water in June of 1990. She is a 65 foot steel tug located within swimming distance of the Rock Pile, The Patricia is part of an extensive "Trek Diving" artificial reef site, where you can visit several wrecks during the same dive. Located within the immediate area are the Miss Karline, Police Barge and Radio Antennas as well as several Rock Piles. The Mathew Lawrence and Army are not far away, either. There is a tremendous amount of fish life here and because of the shallower depths, it is an ideal dive for photography. The Patricia is located at Loran coordinates Latitude 25 48' 47.5" Longitude 80 5' 22.1"

 

Orion:

Depth in Feet: 75 - 95 ft

Depth in Meters: 23 - 29 m

Skill Level: Advanced

This ship was used during the widening of the Panama Canal in Central America. The vessel's engines were converted from electric to diesel to be used as a floating mechanic school. However, funding decreased and the boat went unused for 5 years until the State of Florida seized it and absorbed this ship into the artificial reef program. She was placed in 125 feet of water but shifted to 95 feet with the pressure of the anchor pulling her along. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew brought destruction to this vessel, tearing off the pilot house which landed in the sand next to the ship still intact. The pilot house often contains schools of bait fish. Grouper are also a common sight at this location. The Gulf Stream runs near this wreck often bringing strong currents.

 

Ophelia Brian:

Depth in Feet: 110 ft

Depth in Meters: 34 m

Skill Level: Novice

The Ophelia Brain is a new wreck with a relief of 60' and max depth of 110'

 

Neptune Memorial Reef:

Depth in Feet: 40 ft

Depth in Meters: 14.5 m

Skill Level: Novice

The Atlantis Reef Project is building a man-made reef off the coast of Miami, Florida (3.25 miles east of Key Biscayne) in the image of The Lost City of Atlantis. Atlantis will be the largest man-made reef ever built, covering more than 600,000 square feet of ocean floor and using 10,000 cubic yards of cement. The completed site will have a diameter of over 900 feet, making this a multi-tank dive! After three years of design and engineering efforts, the re-creation of the Lost City of Atlantis will soon become reality. The project team received final approval and permits in December 2005, and construction of the reef will begin January 2006. The site is being billed as the first underwater theme park in the world. Designed as an artificial reef, with concrete statues, columns, domes and arches, the mythical city of Atlantis is scheduled to be built in the SW corner of the Key Biscayne Special Management Zone - a little less than 5 miles southeast of Government Cut.

© 2002 Ideal Scuba Academy