Key Largo, Florida, is home to the underwater state park, the first one of its kind in the US. But you really must hurry up to see it, as it’s almost disappeared…
John Pennekamp Underwater State Park
The Florida Reef is the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States. It is the third-largest coral barrier reef system in the world. It lies six miles from the Florida Keys in water that are 15 to 30 feet deep.
Unfortunately, 98% of the reef is currently dead.
To discover the park we booked a tour and departed from Key Largo. Artem, 5 y.o. was with us, but didn’t swim, the waters were rough for a little one. We took turns to snorkel at the park:
Statue “Christ of the Deep” one of the biggest attractions at the park
The Christ Statue is one of the most famous and visited underwater sites on earth, accessible to divers and snorkelers.
It is covered in corals and curious fish, and several meters from the surface. Leo dived and touched Christ’s hand, for me it was too deep. Rays and stingrays are often sighted near the sandy bottom. It is a beautiful sight, from any angle:
The story behind “Christ of the Deep”
There is an interesting story behind Christ of the Deep creation:
The first, original “Christ of the Deep” statue was set in the Mediterranean Sea near Portofino in 1954. In 1961, a second statue was cast from the same mold. The Cressi family from Italy donated the statue to the Underwater Society of America.
Later, the Underwater Society donated it to the Florida State Park Service, in recognition of the conservation efforts related to the creation of America’s first underwater park.
Book a trip asap, the corals at the underwater park are almost vanished
Although many of the corals appear more like stones, than like living creatures (almost dead), besides Christ of the Deep we saw a lot of colorful, huge fish and lobsters:
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