Pickles Reef is a strange name for a dive site in the Florida Keys

Pickles Reef has no marker or mooring buoys. The depth of the water here ranges from 10' to 25'. It’s located about two and a half miles from Molasses Reef. The GPS coordinates are 24'59.170N and 080'24.940W.

This reef gets its name from a bunch of pickle barrels that are scattered on the ocean floor. The ship carrying them went down after hitting the reef. The barrels were full of cement on there was to either Key West or the Dry Tortugas. It’s thought that the cement was being used in the building of East and West Martello Tower or Fort Jefferson during the Civil War era.


These barrels are now encrusted with the largest pillar coral in the Florida Keys. There’s an area on the north part of the reef that’s called Pillar Coral Forrest. You may need to swim around a little bit to find it, but it’s worth the effort. There’s also the bones of a shrimp boat that’s covered with colorful corals and sponges that add to the beauty of the reef.

You’re likely to see Queen Conch in the grass and sandy areas on the outside of the reef. There’s lots of holes and ledges where a spiny lobster could be hiding. All around are countless numbers of fish and a couple of big green moray eels.

This area is NOT a Sanctuary Preservation Area. It’s OK to fish and take lobster as long as you’ve got your Florida Saltwater Fishing License and a lobster stamp. If you plan to fish and not take lobster you won’t need the lobster stamp endorsement on your fishing license.

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