Reef Dives: Alligator Reef

Alligator Reef Islamorada

Alligator Reef Alligator Reef is one of the largest reef systems in the Upper Keys. In the 1960s, a study of Alligator Reef found and identified more than 500 species of marine life.

The reef arose around a wrecked ship; the USS Alligator built in 1820, which went down in 1825 while on a Navy mission.

This 86-foot ship was attempting to protect a convoy from being raided by pirates. Salvaged after going aground, the crew decided it would be best to blow up the ship in order to protect her from further pirating.

The remains of the ship are two piles of ballast stones but the surrounding reef is one of the largest in the area. (via Dvebuddy)

Alligator Reef & Alligator House Wiki

Alligator Reef Light is located 4 nautical miles (7.4 km; 4.6 mi) east of Indian Key, near the Matecumbe Keys of Florida in the United States, north of Alligator Reef itself.

Alligator Reef Islamorada

Alligator Reef Islamorada

The station was established in 1873. It was automated in 1963 and was last operational in July, 2014, and is being replaced by a 16′ steel structure with a less powerful light located adjacent to it.

The structure is an iron-pile skeleton with a platform. The light is 136 feet (41 m) above the water.

The name honors the U.S. Navy schooner Alligator, part of the U. S. Navy Anti-Piracy Squadron that had recently been established in Key West, which went aground at this location in 1822.

The Alligator was blown up after removing as much as possible from it to prevent it from being used by pirates. Countless vessels have also sunk here on the reef’s jagged coral.

This lighthouse cost $185,000 to build at that time. To support the tower, a 2,000 lb (900 kg) hammer was used to drive the 12″ (300 mm) iron pilings ten feet (3 m) into the coral. (Source Wikipedia)

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