Toppino Reef is a great dive site if you’re planning a shallow night dive

Toppino Reef is marked with the number 32 on a red channel marker. The depth of the water ranges from twenty feet to twenty five feet. There are three mooring buoys, T1 thru T3. It’s located five miles south of Key West. And it’s only four tenths of a mile south of the Aquanaut Wreck. This is not a Sanctuary Preservation Area. It’s OK to take fish and lobster as long as you have a Florida Saltwater Fishing License and a lobster stamp for taking the lobster. The GPS Coordinates are 24'28.457N and 081'44.561W.

This reef used to be known as Marker Reef #1, because it had a channel marker with a number one on it. Today that channel marker has the number 32 on it, so now it also called Marker Reef number 32. The channel marker also has a light on it. This helps you to find this dive site if you’re going to dive at night.

Toppino Reef coral

This is one of the prettiest shallow reef dive sites off Key West. It’s made up of beautiful spur and groove formations. Some of these coral fingers rise ten to fifteen feet out of the sandy bottom. It gives protection to lots of marine life. There are many different species of colorful fish. Schools of grunts and yellowtail snapper, parrotfish munching on the coral, tangs, butterfly fish, damselfish, green moray eel, sea turtles and an occasional nurse shark are all common sights. Of course many of these fish are sleeping if you're here on a night dive. You'll get to see all the coral polyps open and feeding.

I haven’t been back down to this dive site since Hurricane Wilma in October of 2005. I wonder if those beautiful tall coral fingers are still intact. I have been to other dive sites that were spur and groove formations in shallow water and they were broken to pieces by the wave action of the ocean during the hurricane. Really large coral heads were broken from the ocean floor and rolled out into the sand. It breaks my heart to go back to my favorite Florida Keys dive sites and see that they have been turned into rubble.

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