Dive into history with Florida’s Panhandle Shipwreck Trail
Miles off the Florida Panhandle’s coast rest vessels of history.
The Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail is made up of twelve unique shipwrecks, each of which has its own draw and history. The trail was launched in 2012 with the idea of attracting visitors to the Panhandle.
“In order to complete the trail, people would have to travel across the Panhandle,” said Franklin Price, senior archaeologist with the Florida Department of State’s Underwater Archaeology team.
They would also likely have to plan multiple trips to complete the trail, Price said.
The trail was created in part by the archaeology team soliciting dive operators in the area for the shipwrecks that best represented the Panhandle, Price said. Each wreck’s popularity, ecological diversity and history was considered.
For scuba divers, the trail is not to be missed.
“Even if they’re not divers, I hope they still get a better appreciation of the value of what’s down there, of our submerged heritage and the opportunity to explore the shipwrecks and natural reefs,” continued Price.
Divers who take on the Shipwreck Trail can mark each dive with their “passport.”
Dive masters will sign and place a sticker on the passport after the diver visits each wreck.
Locally, you can get your passport from Emerald Coast Scuba, located at 503 U.S. Highway 98 in Destin, or Scuba Tech, located at the corner of Harbor Boulevard and Marler Street.
Miss Louise—A push tugboat that was sunk in 1997. The 95-foot tug lies upright in shallow water about 60 feet down. Storms have flattened some of the top of the tug, said Carla Moore, co-owner of Scuba Tech in Destin. Although it’s close to shore, it can be difficult to reach with fishermen and other dive boats covering the area.
Sea creatures have flocked to the site. Spanish mackerel, kings, barracuda, and baitfish frequent the site. Goliath Groupers, whale sharks, and Manta Rays have also been seen.
“You have to part the fish to see the wreck,” Moore said.
USS Oriskany — An aircraft carrier that has become a popular diving destination. After serving in the Pacific, The “Mighty O” served in the Pacific before being sunk in 2006. Also nicknamed “The Great Carrier Reef,” the Oriskany is one of the most breathtaking dives, Price said.
YDT-14 — This U.S. Navy dive tender was sunk in 2000. The ship’s upper structure is at 65 feet of depth.
San Pablo — From a historical perspective, this freighter is the most interesting. It once hauled fruit from Central America before being sunk by a U-boat during World War II. It was refloated and was later sunk again in a secret military operation off of Pensacola.
Pete Tide II — This offshore oilfield supply vessel became an artificial reef in 1993. It has three decks of superstructure.
Three Coal Barges —These barges were sunk in 1974. They rest in about 50 feet of water.
Black Bart — A oilfield supply vessel that was sunk in 1977. It sits intact from the top down between 40 and 85 feet of water.
FAMI Tugs — These two tugboats once sat bow to bow, but a storm placed one boat on top of the other.
USS Accokeek — A fleet tugboat that served in both Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. It then became a training vessel for navy salvage divers before being sunk for the last time in 100 feet of water in 2000.
USS Strength — A World War II minesweeper that survived a midget submarine attack and a kamikaze raid.
USS Chippewa — A veteran Navy tugboat now lies upright in 100 feet of water.
Port St. Joe:
Vamar — This ship lies in 25 feet of water. It was a support ship for Admiral Richard Byrd’s 1928 Antarctic expedition, then as a tramp steamer it sank under mysterious circumstances in 1942. Of all the trail’s wreckages, this is the most suitable for snorkelers, but it is still best seen on a dive, Price said.
Shipwreck descriptions courtesy of the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research.
More details as well as photos and video on each of the trail’s shipwrecks can be found at www.floridapanhandledivetrail.com. Marine forecast and nearby dive shops for each site can also be found.
Main Photo: Tim Thorsen (www.mbtdivers.com)
Marine Life & Conservation
Reefs Go Live returns for new season
CCMI brings the ocean directly to classrooms around the world through live-stream lessons from underwater
In 2018, the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) launched Reefs Go Live, their innovative, flagship education programme that live-streams directly from underwater on the coral reefs in Little Cayman to students in classrooms around the world in real time. For the 2022 season, the four episodes of Reefs Go Live reached more than 107,000 viewers in 22 countries. CCMI’s Reefs Go Live team hopes to expand their reach with four new episodes and supplemental teaching resources to help integrate the material into classroom lessons.
Science Communications & Development Manager for CCMI, Beth Chafin, is excited to be part of another year of Reefs Go Live:
“Knowing we have an audience that spans the world, our team is energised as we plan and implement our Reefs Go Live season for 2023! We feel that creating a connection to the ocean and sharing the beautiful coral reefs of Little Cayman with others, both locally and abroad, is one of the most important ways to increase support for critical, timely issues such as marine protection and sustainability. At CCMI, we are fortunate to have these stunning reefs at our doorstep; not everyone is so lucky to be this connected to coral reefs, but healthy coral reefs are vitally important to everyone on earth. Bringing the ocean into classrooms and homes through Reefs Go Live allows us to share the work we do at the Little Cayman Research Centre, facilitate real-time interactions between viewers around the world and our experts in the field, and inspire the diverse audience to take positive action for the future of coral reefs.”
The first episode of 2023 will take place on Friday, 31st March at 10 am Cayman time (UTC -5h). The episode, ‘Finding Hope on our Reefs’, will feature what CCMI’s long-term monitoring of Little Cayman’s reefs shows us. The data from the annual surveys reveals important trends in reef health over time that reflect global threats and the benefits of strong local protection. Reefs Go Live hosts will explain why this annual monitoring is important and what the results tell us about the future of our coral reefs that we all depend upon. Viewers of each episode will be able to ask questions of the diver and participate in polls through the online platform to make Reefs Go Live an interactive experience.
Additional episodes for this year will run at 10 am (UTC -5h) on the following dates:
Thursday, 11th May: Adaptation on Coral Reefs
Wednesday, 24th May: Reef Resiliency & Restoration
Thursday, 8th June: World Ocean Day – 25 Years of Coral Reef Research
Registration for Reefs Go Live is free and is only required once to receive access to all episodes: https://donate.reefresearch.org/rgl2023.
Reefs Go Live provides an opportunity for students from all over the world to engage with the stunning ocean environment in its most natural format. As coral reefs around the world face unprecedented pressure, generating increased engagement with these precious ecosystems creates an opportunity to promote marine sustainability in a positive and fun way.
Reefs Go Live utilises streaming technology with underwater video and audio equipment to enable real time broadcasting from Little Cayman’s stunning coral reefs. Little Cayman, a Mission Blue Hope Spot, hosts one of the healthiest reef ecosystems in the Caribbean, which overall remains healthy and shows resiliency to climate change impacts. The broadcasts and education materials draw connections from CCMI’s current research conducted in Little Cayman to the national science curriculum and key ocean literacy principles, making CCMI’s work relevant and accessible to students and viewers of all ages, and emphasizing the relationship that we all have to coral reefs, no matter where we are.
Reefs Go Live is a free education programme that is made possible by the generosity of The Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation. To register for the broadcasts and teaching resources, please visit: https://reefresearch.org/what-we-do/education/reefs-go-live/
Palaemon Divers shortlisted for top Business Award
North West-based Dive Centre, Palaemon Divers, has been shortlisted for Leisure and Tourism Start Up of the Year with Start Up Awards 2023.
Palaemon Divers is delighted to be named a finalist in the Awards which celebrate Start Up Businesses and what they have brought to the economy within three years of their launch.
Palaemon Divers was started by Leanne Clowes in the midst of COVID lockdowns. Leanne walked out of her well paid corporate sales job with no savings after a redundancy in a previous role and spending the majority of the year before COVID to follow the dream! After the redundancy and COVID, life struck just a little differently and the pull to become a full-time dive instructor became impossible to ignore!
So with that… notice was handed in, no savings, nothing physical to start being a full time dive instructor other than personal kit at the time – oh and the fact, Leanne was actually an Assistant Instructor at the time and hadn’t attended the instruction exam at that point as there had been none going on through COVID obviously!
However, the first Instructor Exam that was happening out of COVID was booked onto – no pressure at all with no full time job, no money as a back up, mortgage and bills to pay…
Leanne started freelancing as an instructor in the North West using various outdoor locations for training, and the business snowballed and quickly gained its first physical dive centre in January 2022 along with finding their own private in-water training facility at Princes Dock in Liverpool. Since then, 100s of new people from Liverpool and further afield have been introduced to the amazing sport of scuba, and experienced the abundant life under the surface of the dock itself.
In a time of no travel to outside your area or abroad, Palaemon Divers found something new and exciting to introduce the city of Liverpool to those who spend five days a week in the office looking down at the dock and not really being able to appreciate what the dock actually means to Liverpool!
It became apparent during 2022, that although Liverpool was fantastic, more growth was on the cards which came in the form of a second location, Palaemon Divers – Warrington. The second dive centre is an ex micro brewery in Warrington with a central location close to the M6, M62 and M56, spread over two floors which includes a classroom, workshop, compressor and a floor dedicated to retail.
The efforts in building this business have not gone unnoticed with the shortlist for Startup Awards, and also another shortlist which will be announced in the next month.
For more, email or visit:
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