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Marathon Diving & Snorkeling
Around Marathon, the midway point in the Florida Keys, there are about 30 to 40 great dive sites. As with other areas of the Keys, both PADI and NAUI certifications are accepted, but you must have your card. Dive concessions can be found at Marathon's several dive shops, resorts, hotels/motels, and marinas. Opportunity for rentals or purchase of dive or snorkel equipment can be found at many.
Offshore of the Middle Keys there are several examples of both outside spur and groove reefs as well as patch reefs. Sandy areas and grass beds provide a home to shrimp, crabs, small fish, anemone and conch. It is against the law to disturb a conch or a coral!
About four miles offshore, and visible from the Seven Mile Bride, lies the Sombrero Light Tower, the tallest lighthouse in the Keys. This structure marks a large spur and groove reef system, Sombrero Reef, which has mooring buoys so you don't have to drop your anchor into the delicate ocean floor. One of the highlights of a dive on the reef is a swim under a natural coral bridge formed where two fingers of coral meet.
Coffin's Patch is a group of six distinct patch reefs, each showing a predominant coral species. Snorkelers will like this reef system as, in many places, the water is only seven or eight feet deep. There are shallow elkhorn coral forests found throughout Coffin's Patch, in less than 20 feet of water.
Yellow Rocks, about three and a half miles off Key Colony Beach, is a set of ledges running east and west for more than 200 yards, rising about twelve feet from the bottom. Of course, ledges are a great place to find lobsters.
Delta Shoals is a network of coral canyons jutting seaward from a sandy shoal. Both divers and snorkelers would also be happy here.
The Thunderbolt, a 188-foot Navy research vessel, was intentionally sunk in 1986 to create an artificial reef.
If you are looking for a good underwater photographic subject, The Barge may fit that bill. This 100x300 foot wreck is only twenty-two feet below the surface and is terrific for a first wreck dive.
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