Hen and Chickens Reef is the place to dive if you’re looking for a beautiful shallow dive site in the Florida Keys
Hen and Chickens Reef is marked with a 35' tall light tower on the outside edge of the reef. It has the number 40 on it. The depth of the water ranges from 3' to 35'. There are lots of mooring buoys, but I don’t know exactly how many. It’s located 2 ½ miles southeast of Plantation Key. Most of this reef is a Sanctuary Preservation Area that means you’re not allowed to take any lobster or fish or collect anything at this site. The GPS coordinates are 24'55.900N and 080'32.900W.
The reef gets its name because from above it seems to have a center with lots of smaller patch reefs migrating out from the middle.
This reef is in the middle of Hawk Channel. It’s closer to shore than the other reefs. Lots of times the visibility is not as good here as the offshore reefs. It’s a nice shallow dive and is perfect for snorkeling or for the novice diver.
This reef is made up of many small patch reefs. You’ll see a jungle of coral heads both brain and star and some awesome gorgonian corals. Some of the coral heads are 15' tall. Some of the star corals are showing damage and are on the decline. There are lots of cracks, crevices and small ledges. You’ll be amazed at the abundance of marine life. You’ll see numerous barracudas, lobster, parrotfish, small grouper, snook, small tropical fish, green moray eels and black spiny sea urchin. There are so many purple sea fans that it looks like you’re swimming in a purple forest. There’s a wreck at this dive site. It’s the Brick Barge and it’s located on the north end of the reef.
During the winter of 1970 the Florida Keys had an extremely cold winter. It killed off almost 80 percent of Hen and Chickens Reef. I think you’ll be surprised by the extraordinary come back this reef has made. It’s really a beautiful dive.
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