San Pedro is one of the oldest known shipwrecks in the Florida Keys

San Pedro does not have any marker to mark the dive site. The depth of the water is 15'. There are six mooring buoys to tie your boat too. It’s located one and one quarter mile south of Lower Matacumbe Key. This is NOT a Sanctuary Preservation Area, but on April 1, 1989 it was designated a State Underwater Archaeological Preserve. The GPS coordinates are 24'51.802N and 080'40.780W.

She was a 287 ton Spanish Galleon merchant ship. Her owner was Gaspar de Larrea Berdugo and she was Captained by Gasper de Lopez Gonzales. She was carrying a cargo of indigo, Chinese Porcelain, cochineal, tanned hides and silver pesos.

Anchor at San Pedro Shipwreck

She and 21 other ships left Havana on Friday, September 13, 1733. As soon as the fleet had spotted the islands of the Florida Keys, the winds switched directions and began to howl. They knew they had sailed right into the path of a hurricane. The Captains were ordered to turn their ships around and return to Cuba. It was too late. Seventeen of the ships were driven onto and over the reefs and flats of the Florida Keys.

The hurricane pounded her hull on the reef. Suddenly a huge wave lifted her off and over the reef into Hawk Channel. This is where she sank. Her crew made rafts from the timbers of the broken ship and made it safely to Indian Key.

She was full of water and her decks awash as the Spanish returned to salvage as much cargo and treasure as they could. The goods were taken to their base camp on Indian Key until they could be loaded onto another ship and taken back to Havana.

Cross section of San Pedro site Today the ship’s ribs and keel lays buried in the sand. A large pile of ballast stones 90' long and 30' wide are just about all that’s visible of the shipwreck. There are a few timbers sticking out of the sand at times, and there are several flat, red ladrillo bricks from the ship’s galley scattered in with the ballast stones.

The San Pedro is in a large circle of white sand surrounded by turtle grass. Many species of coral, sponges and purple sea fans call this wreck home. You’ll also find lobster, wrasse, crab, shrimp, grouper, gobies, damselfish, hogfish and schooling grunts.

San Pedro Preserve

There’s a plaque at the southeast side of the ballast stone pile. It designates this shipwreck as a State Underwater Archaeological Preserve. This site is also protected as part of Florida’s Shipwreck Park System. You are NOT allowed to take anything from this dive site. If you just have to treasure hunt be really sure that you’re outside the boundary of the Underwater Preserve. Many times the unfound treasure has been discovered several hundred feet away from the main wreck.

Seven replica cannons made of concrete and an 18th century anchor were placed at the San Pedro site to give the diver a more realistic view of a real shipwreck. Three of the cannons have been covered with sand and are no longer visible. The hurricanes that came thru or close to the Florida Keys the past few years have been responsible for hiding the cannons under the sand. It’s still a great backdrop of taking under water pictures.

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