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Wreck of the Eagle - Islamorada FL


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The Eagle lies on her starboard side in 110 feet of water three miles northeast of Alligator Reef Light off Lower Matecumbe Key, Islamorada, FL. On the night of December 19, 1985, while waiting to be sunk as an artificial reef next to the Alexander Barge, the Eagle broke from her moorings. Her port anchor was dropped to prevent further drifting in the current and she was sunk at that spot.
History:
The Eagle, then known as the Raila Dan, was launched at Werf-Gorinchem, Holland, in December 1962 as a conventional hull freighter. She had several owners and seven name changes after her launching. On October 6, 1985, she caught fire. Two U.S. Coast Guard cutters responded to her distress call, but the ship’s superstructure was destroyed. After being declared a total loss, the Florida Keys Artificial Reef Association purchased her for $30,000 and Joe Teitelbaum, a private citizen, donated another $20,000 to help create an artificial reef. The ship was then named the Eagle Tire Company, and was cleaned, gutted of all wooden parts, and all oil and fuel was removed to protect the marine life in the area.
Archaeology:
The Eagle has a number of interesting structural features that make it a notable dive attraction. A large anchor chain exits the hawse pipe on the port bow, and continues a considerable distance before disappearing in the sand. Two large mast assemblies rest on the bottom. One is set on the forecastle; the other, amidships between cargo bays. Each has its own ladder and observation platform in place. Toward the stern there is a tandem set of cargo booms. Heat damage from the fire can be observed in the stern quarter. The deck railings at 70 feet, and her propeller and rudder at 110 feet, are still intact. In 1998, the Eagle was broken in two by Hurricane Georges.
Marine Life Commonly Observed on this Site:
Watch for these fish: grouper, snapper, cobia, amberjacks, silversides, and grunts. Look for these plants and bottom dwelling organisms: green algae, sponges, sea rods, sea whips, black coral, branching fire coral, and starlet coral.

Comments

divercharles - 6/30/2017 4:34 PM
Rating Added: 4
This dive sight is another wonderful wreck. Artificial, sunk by the Eagle Tire Company, but still impressive. One can float inbetween the two giant pieces of the wreck and see where the charges were laid. Lots of wildlife.
JMH115 - 12/26/2016 1:34 PM
I went scuba diving here on 12/17/2016.
Windy and rough. Dove wit Key Dives. 79 degrees bottom temp. Swam up through the wheelhouse. Saw a big bull shark.
JMH115 - 12/26/2016 1:32 PM
I went scuba diving here on 12/16/2016.
Bottom temp 79. Sea surface very rough. Fun dive.
tbarcia - 3/30/2014 1:57 PM
Rating Added: 5
This was my first dive after completing my open water certification dives and was EXACTLY what I wanted to learn to dive for. Loads of marine life and a swim thru the pilothouse.
Seadragon - 1/30/2014 11:44 AM
Rating Added: 4
Once dove this site when it was 6 ft seas on top. What a wild ride that was!
deepdr - 5/08/2013 8:17 PM
Rating Added: 5
Great wreck with lots of marine life (sharks, Goliath groupers, etc).
nauidiver - 2/05/2012 7:19 PM
I went scuba diving here on 9/30/2006. Average viz: 81-90ft/25-27m.
Great dive! If you ever get the chance to dive this wreck I would do so...

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