f l o r i d ad i v i n g
with Links to Dive Shops
(with FLASH 4 )
|MIAMI WRECK DIVING,
The 1995 mid-Miami Beach sinking of the 180-foot freighter Tortuga (renamed Fair Game) brought the artificial reef program even more publicity. Sunk as part of the Cindy Crawford/Billy Baldwin movie by the same name, the ship was part of a closing sequence that transformed it into an underwater attraction.
The huge ship is easily penetrated and has already attracted lots of barracuda and other marine inhabitants. It sits upright in about 110 feet of water, but it's almost 40 feet to the top of the wheelhouse. The wreck offers experienced and novice wreck divers and opportunity to penetrate a ship with minimal risk, thanks to a cavernous interior and well placed and highly visible cut-out sections.
Finally, the Andro completes this triple play of Miami Beach wrecks. Located just off Haulover Cut in north Miami Beach and easily accessible for most local dive boats, the 165-foot Andro was originally built as a private yacht in 1910. It was used as a coastal submarine chaser during World War II and as an inter-island freighter after that.
The ship was sunk as part of the artificial reef program in 1985, so it's had a lot of time to mature into a convenient favorite for local and visiting divers. She sits in about 105 feet of water, with a relief of 35 feet. The colorful coral thickly encrusting the ship and lots of permanent and passing fish make this a must-see in Miami Beach.
There are many more reasons that Miami Beach has become a wreck diving hub. Some of the possibilities include: the Spirit of Miami (a Boeing 727 jet aircraft); the Doc DeMilly (a 287-foot steel freighter); the Wreck Trek (an underwater trail connecting several ships and an old radio antenna); the Tenneco Oil Rigs (former Gulf of Mexico oil platforms); the Tarpoon (a 175-foot grain carrier); two U.S. Army Tanks (complete with their huge gun turrets); and the Rio Miami (sunk by Hugh Downs, an avid diver, during a 20/20 television segment on artificial reefs in 1989). The 105-foot tug is in just 80 feet of water.
In addition, Artificial Reef Program personnel were responsible for placing more than 650 concrete and limestone structures in barren habitats offshore in 1996, with another 400 coming in 1997. The specifically designed structures used in Miami are 6 feet wide, 9 feet long, and weigh about 17,000 pounds. They were designed by Mostkoff to be a cost-effective and functional replica of a small patch reef, with emphasis given to creating a habitat catering to the needs of post-larveal recruits and juvenile fish.
All of these varied sites may make you think you won't have much time to explore the area. But most of the sites are conveniently close, as are the operators and their boats. You also probably need to stay in the area longer than first planned. Neon-hot Miami Beach's topside is (almost) as fun as its brightening underwater wreck scene.
For more specific information about diving and dive packages, call (888) SCUBA MB. They can also help with other hotel and travel recommendations. For more information the Miami area in general, contact the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau at 701 Brickell Avenue, Suite 2700, Miami, FL 33131, (800) 283-2707. For more information about Miami Beach specifically, contact the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce at 1920 Meridian Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139, (305) 672-1270.