Happy 15th Anniversary to the Sinking of the Spiegel Grove!
May 17th marked the 15th anniversary of the sinking of the Spiegel Grove. Everyone loves the Spiegel. It’s a great dive and home to a ton of life. The monthly Immerse Yourself talk at the History of Diving Museum was dedicated to the story of the Spiegel Grove from her time as an active military ship to post sinking.
I had no idea there was such a tangled tale behind the creation of this artificial reef! If you’re coming down to here to dive, the Spiegel is not to be missed! Don’t have your AOW yet? Why not tackle that while you’re here!
Speaker 1 – The Spiegel in Action
Jim Wyatt, a captain with Rainbow Reef in Key Largo served on the Spiegel Grove during his time in the military. He had a slide deck filled with facts and photos of the ship in active service and topped off each one by telling a personal story of what it was like to be on the ship. I’ll definitely look at the wreck differently next time I’m down there after seeing his photos and hearing his stories.
Speaker 2 – The Sinking of the Spiegel
Steven Frink (renowned underwater photographer) along with Rob Bleser (owner of Quiescence) told the story of the trials and tribulations they faced getting the Spiegel on the bottom. They were funny & engaging and told the tale without any notes with a little help from the audience (including Captain Slate). At long last, after financial hurdles, boat yards who were supposed to be “cleaning” the ship for sinking (they also cleaned it of valuables including trying to take the propellors!) they finally got the boat on the bottom. Except it didn’t sink as planned, not even close, and landed upside-down not nearly far enough under the surface. Under the gun to get the ship repositioned before the government “blew up the navigational hazard” they were able to roll her on her side. Deep enough on her side she quickly became one of Key Largo’s favorite dives. You’ll find her upright now thanks to her position broad side to the current and the path of Hurricane Dennis in 2005.
Thanks for not giving up guys!
Speaker 3 – The Spiegel’s Impact on Sea Life
Lad Akins of REEF is the Director of Special Projects including the assessment of artificial reefs and their impact on surrounding sea life. The assessments were done at various intervals for the first 5 years. The biggest fear was that the wreck would lure fish away from nearby reefs, not at all the goal of an artificial reef. Fishing is also allowed on the wreck whereas it’s not within the sanctuary so fish migrating from a no-take to a take zone could have disastrous effects. I didn’t take notes so my numbers might be a little off but you’ll get the idea.
- At the end of the first year 100 of the species found on the natural reef were found on the Spiegel.
- At the end of the 5 year study period 200 of the 293 species on the reef could be found on the wreck.
- The fish populations on the natural reefs did not decline during this time! A huge win for the artificial reef!
I’d love to see the results now at the end of 15 years. Every year the wreck will become more and more like a natural reef environment. The Benwood Wreckage is a great example of that. I’d be willing to volunteer to help with a 15 year assessment!
Thanks to the museum and all of the speakers for making this talk possible! I can’t wait to dive the Spiegel again and look at it with all of my newly gained knowledge!
Have you dove the Spiegel? What did you think?
Until next time…
Stay warm friends!