Smith Shoal is definitely not a crowded dive site in the Florida Keys
Smith Shoal is marked with a light tower that stands forty nine feet tall. The depth of the water ranges from eighteen feet to thirty feet. There are no mooring buoys. Be careful and look over before you anchor, there are coral heads that you don’t want to drop your anchor on. This is not a Sanctuary Preservation Area. It’s OK to take fish and lobster as long as you have your Florida Saltwater Fishing License and a lobster stamp for the lobster catching. It’s located eleven miles northwest of Key West. It’s also five miles north of the northwest passage light. The GPS Coordinates are 24'43.101N and 081'55.050W.
The light tower stands in twenty feet of water on the northeast end of the shoal. It was built and first lit in 1933. It’s been automated ever since then. It’s a white hexagonal pyramidal steel skeleton tower made out of pilings. These are driven several feet into the reef to keep the tower from washing away. Identical forty nine foot tall lighted towers were placed at Tennessee Reef in 1933, that’s in the Upper Keys. Cosgrove Shoal Reef in 1935, it’s down at the Marquesas Keys and Pulaski Shoal in 1935, which is located down by the Dry Tortugas.
This dive site is eight miles northeast of Alexander's Wreck. It’s convenient to dive both these reefs on the same trip. I should mention that because of the location the visibility is usually pretty poor. But when you catch days with good visibility this is a great site. There’s lots of different types of coral and lots of fish and lobster. During 2001 and early 2002 there was a die off of some species of hard coral and Clionid sponges. A red tide moved over this area for a period of time and is thought to be the source of the die off.
Even though this is not one of the most popular dive sites in the Florida Keys, it’s still a great dive. Especially for the novice. Spearfishermen like to hunt around this reef. I hear they do very well.
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