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Elbow Reef is our most popular dive spot because of its beautiful reefs that have grown up around some very old shipwrecks. The Gulf Stream passes closer to Elbow than many other Key Largo reefs which means the water on Elbow is usually clear blue providing the best visibility in the park. Some of the wrecks here have been down for over 100 years and have fostered a great deal of coral growth. A large variety of sea creatures such as moray eels, stone fish, large barracuda and goliath grouper inhabit The Elbow.
The Elbow includes various sites in one location:
CITY OF WASHINGTON Just offshore of the Elbow reef lies the remains of the “City of Washington”, a schooner lost here in 1917. This wreck is known for exceptionally clear waters and an abundance of friendly fish populations. Several friendly green morays, barracuda and grouper patrol. The scattered wreckage provides an excellent backdrop for underwater photography. If you want to see big stuff, this site is a ‘must do.’
MIKE’S WRECK Probably the most colorful area of the Elbow, adorned with lots of soft coral. The site was named Mikes Wreck after a local captain who’s boat sank at the site in the 1970′s. Upon salvaging the vessel, a much larger steel hulled wreck was discovered underneath it.
SOUTH LEDGES This reef area is known for it’s clear water and spectacular coral. A spur and groove formation provides shelter for many large species of fish. Turtles, schools of spotted eagle rays and even tarpon are often seen. A large ‘Sand Highway’ cuts across the ledges at the deeper section providing large pelagics an easy route up and down the reef.
ANCHOR CHAIN lying across the reef near the mooring ball, an abandoned anchor chain with huge links and concrete mooring block, thought to be that of the original lightship at the Elbow reef can be found here in 25 feet of water. Good visibility and unlimited fish and coral make this a favorite site among divers.
TRAIN WHEEL WRECK A tug and barge went aground in the 20s, dumping train track and wheels onto the reef. Huge formations of Elkhorn coral shelter schools of Goatfish, Snappers, and Porkfish. Colorful tropical fish are plentiful.
FINGERS Southeast of the Elbow, a spur and groove formation features coral ridges topped by giant elkhorn corals. The outstretched arms of these shallow coral colonies provide habitat for schooling grunts and other tropical fish. A large school of blue tangs can usually be seen along with an awesome specimen of Elkhorn. Species normally found in the Bahamas are abundant here, making this another photographers favorite.
ELBOW DEEP / NELSONS LEDGE Perfect for a deep drift dive or for those wanting a bit more depth. The reef top is fairly flat and starts at 50′ with a mini wall dropping down to between 70′ and 100′. Huge barrel sponges and brain coral are a prominent feature of this dive.