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This Week's Dive Schedule

Scuba Diving in Fort Lauderdale is excellent. The warm waters of the Gulf Stream keep the water temperatures averaging around 72-75 degrees in the winter and 84-87 in the summer so there is no end to the dive season. Visibility averages around 40 feet and improves in the winter with the reduction of algae.

Reef Diving

The reef system is comprised of three bands that run parallel to the shore ranging from 15 feet to 100 feet deep. These reefs are made up of coral growth on top of an eroded base of ancient reefs in an ideal depth and location for coral proliferation. Currents tend to be mild on the shallow reefs but can get strong on the deeper sites. Some of The American Dream's favorite reef sites are:

The Caves - Reef depth: 25' - 35'

Oakland Ridges - Reef depth: 25' - 35'

Barracuda - Barracuda Reef is 15 foot west-facing ledge starting at 15 feet deep and reaching the sand at 30 feet. The top of the ledge is covered with sea fans and sponges and there are usually lots of tropicals.

Hammerhead - Large grouper, rays, and sharks are found on the backside of Hammerhead Reef which is at a depth of 80 feet while the front side at 60 feet is full of grunts, snapper and some friendly green moray eels.

Minecar - Reef depth: 45' - 65'+

Paradise - Reef depth: 45' - 65'+

Tuna Alley - Reef depth: 45' - 65' +

Wreck Dives

The Fort Lauderdale coast is one the world's premiere wreck diving destinations. Since 1982 the Broward County Department of Natural Resource Protection with the help of various private companies has created more than 75 artificial reefs sunk at various levels. Most are sunk at 65 feet or deeper and are intact and covered in soft corals. Many of the them have a colorful history.

The American Dream visits:

Hog Heaven - This 180 foot long barge was sunk on Sept. 19, 1986 and rests upside down in 64 feet of water.

Robert Edmister - This 95 foot Coast Guard cutter was built in 1953 and was resold at in auction in Fort Lauderdale to a businessman who renamed her Robert Edmister after a friend who had passed away. The newly named Robert Edmister was sunk on Dec. 11, 1989 and sits upright in 70 feet of water. The Edmister has already attracted a good variety of marine life including coral.

Jay Scutti - This 95 foot harbor tugboat was built in the Netherlands in 1961 and confiscated during a marijuana smuggling mission. She was purchased at auction by a local businessman and renamed Jay Scutti in memory of his son. The wreck was sunk as an artificial reef on Sept. 19, 1986 and is attached to the wreck of the 95 foot steel work boat Pride with a cable. Divers can explore both vessels on one dive.

M/V Tracey aka Ken Vitale

Rebel - The Dutch freighter Rebel was built in 1947 and was 128 feel long. After being confiscated for drug smuggling, she was purchased at a federal auction by a Fort Lauderdale attorney and environmentalist who donated her to the county reef program. The Rebel sits in 110 feet of water intact and upright and visibility has been reported to exceed 100 feet. Divers can reach the deck of the Rebel at 85 feet.

Mercedes - The freighter Mercedes I was built in Germany in 1952. On Nov. 23, 1984 while the Mercedes I was sitting peacefully at anchor a storm ripped the freighter from her anchor and sent the vessel towards shore where it was beached against the sea wall of a wealthy Palm Beach socialite. After the accident, the Mercedes' owners abandoned her leaving the state of Florida to pull her off the beach. On March 30, 1985 she was loaded with 350 pounds of TNT and now rests in 97 feet of water surrounded by abundant marine life. Average visibility ranges from 50 to 60 feet and the current can sometimes be strong so the wreck is for more advanced divers.

Jim Atria - This Dutch freighter was built in 1961. She capsized and sank in the Miami River and was raised and sunk as an artificial reef on Sep. 23, 1987. She sits on the port side in 112 feet of water.

Peter B McAllister

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