1979 Discovering Deep-Water Wrecks off Key Largo

Excerpts from Miami Herald articles, “Key Largo Surveyors: New Reef” by Barry Schatz and “Scientist Submerged in Search for Reef” by Anne Wilder:

April 3, 1979, “Scientists taking a survey off Key Largo last week confirmed the existence of a deep-water reef that may hold organisms and sunken treasures so far unknown to the area. Substantial tracts of the deep-water reef, which parallels the main coral reel, were located at depths of 100 to 200 feet through the use of depth soundings and side-scan sonar…The mapping project precedes a$100,000 18-month long study being led in May by the Office of Coastal Zone Management, which will inventory the reef’s flora and fauna…Several of the dive sites contain shipwreck remains that had been unknown prior to their discovery during last week’s sonar survey.”

June 1, 1979 “…East of Key Largo, in water as deep as 350 feet, scientists Friday were looking through the plastic bubble of the Johnson-Sea-Link ‘submersible’ as the little craft glides over a recently discovered deep reef area…the discovery including some that could date back to the Spanish conquest, was a by-product of the reef’s project’s preparations.”

“When Harbor Branch scientist planned their mission, they wanted to survey the area where the submersible would be diving. ‘The ocean is a very largo place’ [the expedition’s operations director Roger] Cook said.  ‘We needed to know just where the submersible should dive.’

“So NOAA teams took sonar survey of the area using a ‘fish’-a torpedo shaped object 2 ½ feet long and dive inches in diameter.  Trailed behind a support ship, the ‘fish’ maps the sea bottom.

“The fish discovered the reefs and the six shipwrecks.  The teams won’t explore the wrecks Cook said.”