Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary
For anyone who enjoys escaping into the beautiful waters of the Florida Keys a trip to the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary, one of Big Pine’s groove and spur reefs, is essential. This reef got its name from the HMS Looe which supposedly ran aground there in 1744 while towing a captured French ship, the Snow. While crossing the reef, the HMS Looe hit hard in only 25 feet of water and quickly burned to the waterline, taking the accompanying ship with her. Recent archeological studies say that the ship that went down with the Looe was named Billander Betty and that ballast stones located at the eastern end of the reef are from those two ships. With a rich history and its unique shape and varying depths, Looe Key is an excellent SCUBA and snorkeling site for people of all skill levels who are keen on visiting Florida Keys Parks. Water clarity is mostly excellent and sea conditions are generally moderate.
The reef is home to over 150 species of fish including yellowtail, angelfish, parrotfish, barracuda, sergeant majors, and moray eel. The lucky diver can also see several shark and ray species. After 7,000 years of coral growth, about fifty species are present, many named for the shapes of their namesakes on land. These corals include staghorn, elkhorn, star, brain, and fire corals. A new diving attraction called the Adolphus Busch was added as an artificial reef about three miles west of Looe Key. This 210-foot ship makes a great wreck diving location this is also a great place to go lobstering in the Keys. Contact local scuba dive or snorkel charters to schedule a day exploring Looe Key and other astonishing underwater paradises.