The Eagle is possibly the best wreck dive site in the Florida Keys Artificial Reef System!
The Eagle is marked with three mooring buoys, one at the bow, one midship and one at the stern. The depth of the water here is 110'. It’s located 4 ½ miles southeast of Islamorada. The GPS coordinates are 24'52.184N and 080'34.217W.
This artificial reef
is a 268' long and 40' wide steel-hulled freighter. On October 6, 1985, 125 miles south of Miami, the vessel Arron K, (her name at that time), caught fire on route to Venezuela. The fire was so intense that it damaged her structurally, and she was a total loss. Through the efforts of The Florida Keys Artificial Reef Association and the Keys Association of Diver Operators funds were raised to purchase the vessel to be cleaned, prepared and sank to be an artificial reef.
She was stripped of all oil, fuel and chemicals that would harm the ocean. All cables and wooden parts as well as doors and hatches were removed that could snag a diver. Several holes were cut in the starboard side for easy access by divers and several holes were blasted in the hull.
The Eagle was moored to the sunken Alexander Barge. The original plan was to sink her next to it. She broke away in the strong current. Her port anchor was dropped to keep her from drifting further away. On December 19, 1985 she was loaded with explosives and sent to the bottom where she was anchored. She landed on her starboard side instead of the desired upright position.
In September 1998 when Hurricane Georges hit the Florida Keys, it ripped the wreck into two separate pieces. They now lay 100' apart. The bow section has the mast with the crow’s nest and the stern section has the cargo booms, smokestack and a large four bladed propeller.
The visibility is usually 50' to 100' here. You’ll see the mast when you get down to 65'. The whole wreck should be visible at this point. The hull is totally encrusted with marine plants and animals. There’s lots of bright colored sponges, corals and spiny oysters growing on the ship. You can expect to see schools of baitfish, huge angle fish, large grouper, cobia, tarpon, amberjacks and many very large jewfish.
The Eagle is for divers with advanced skills. If you plan to dive it, you’ll need to bring your logbook and Advanced-C card with you. The current is usually strong here. You’ll need to use the mooring line for your decent and ascent to and from the shipwreck. This is a multi level dive so there’s a mandatory 15' safety stop. Many divers tout this to be the best wreck dive in the Florida Keys.
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