Key Largo Coral Reef Was Established In 1960, First Underwater Park In the United States

By  //  March 15, 2016

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In August 1965, Christ of the Abyss was placed approximately in 25 feet of water off the coast of Key Largo, Florida, near Dry Rocks, approximately six miles east of Key Largo in the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. (FloridaMemory.com image)

FLORIDAHISTORY.COM – The Key Largo Coral Reef was established in March 1960, thus establishing the underwater area as officially part of the state park system, and the first underwater park in the United States.

The park encompasses approximately 70 nautical square miles of underwater reefs and mangrove areas.

A few years after the underwater park was established, land was donated and developed to include a camping area and visitor’s center on land adjacent to the reefs.

While the mangrove swamps and tropical hammocks in the park’s upland areas offer visitors a unique experience, it is the coral reefs and their associated marine life that bring most visitors to the park.

Many enjoy the view of the reef from a glass-bottom boat tour, but visitors can get a closer look by scuba diving or snorkeling.

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The park extends 3 miles into the Atlantic Ocean and is approximately 25 miles in length. These areas were established to protect and preserve a portion of the only living coral reef in the continental United States.

The park was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 14, 1972.

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