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Solved Key Largo Diving Mystery!  Mikes Wreck Is The Hannah M. Bell

If you plan to dive Key Largo, you'll find Mikes Wreck, or the now confirmed Hannah M. Bell, lying on Elbow Reef. Wreck.

Once a mystery ship, this vessel rests near two other popular Florida Keys shipwrecks, the City of Washington and the Tonawanda

The combination of Elbow Reef, along with three interesting wreck dives is why this is one of the best Florida Keys dive trips.

With so many other wrecks nearby, crystal clear water, and an amazing coral reef to explore, this is scuba diving Florida Keys at it's best.

When wreck diving the now confirmed Hannah M. Bell, you'll find her lying between buoy E2 and buoy E3. This position is only a few hundred feet from the Elbow Reef lighthouse which means night diving is possible.

The Hannah M. Bell is also shallow at a maximum depth of 25 feet. This makes this Florida Keys wreck perfect for those interested in Florida Keys snorkeling or for those who want to learn to scuba dive.

Mike's Wreck
Courtesy and LivetoDiveDivetoLive

One of the more common shipwreck issues which plagued Mikes Wreck was the question surrounding her identity. Over the years she's carried with her the name of the man who accidentally discovered her, but this hasn't stopped the arguments from raging.

Many once believed her to be the true Tonawanda. Of course the Tonawanda was a wooden hulled vessel, whereas the remains of this vessel are steel.

However, by 2011, word had spread that this ship was likely the Hannah M. Bell. In September, 2012, a group of researchers preformed a number of scientific tasks utilizing forensic techniques. Later they announced that this was in fact the missing British transport steamship, wrecked on April 3, 1911.

What had clouded the ship's identity and confused the issue further was that another ship, a U.S. steamer named the Quoque, had grounded on top of her in 1920.

The years have produced some lively debate, sparked primarily because noted sources reported the Hannah M. Bell foundering near Carysfort Light. Finally, thanks to modern science, the debate surrounding this ship has been put to rest.

Even though we can now call this wreck the Hannah M. Bell with certitude, I imagine her preferred name will continue to be Mike's Wreck. Familiarity and simplicity are always best, especially if you're planning diving trips with local diving companies.

At-A-Glance Wreck Diving Description
And GPS Coordinates

Wreck Name
Mike's Wreck, Hannah M. Bell - tranport steamship
300' east of Elbow lighthouse at Elbow Reef not far from City of Washington
GPS Coordinates
25'08.673N 080'15.393W
Mooring buoys E2 and E3
15' - 25'
40' - 120'
Wreck Diving Description
Perfect spot for Florida Keys snorkeling. Bow and stern have become overgrown with marine life. Remnants of pipe and other debris scatter the area. Originally named for the individual who discovered the unknown vessel, but her true identity was confirmed to be the Hannah M. Bell
Marine Life
Large variety of fish including parrotfish, angelfish, blue tang, butterflyfish, nurse sharks, grunts, spotted eagle rays, lots of coral including brain, star, elkhorn, sea fan, eels, sea turtles, gobies

Mikes Wreck has become an extremely successful artificial reef and so anyone Key Largo diving will find that most of her hull and stern are covered with a variety of coral teeming with numerous species of fish.

You'll also want to have your underwater camera ready because large sea turtles, and a host of brightly colored tropical fish and game fish inhabit the area.

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When you swim up to a sea turtle you want to be able to get a good shot, and a camera that is hands free will give you the most versatility.

This feature is especially important when diving a wreck because it means you're able to protect yourself from entanglements. You're also able to move obstructions easier, and can gently pick up and set down any artifacts you might discover.

Especially at Key Largo diving sites like Mikes Wreck, a hands free camera is particularly useful. This is because it's hard to see the larger sections of the vessel and being 'hands free', you'll find it easier to examine the many smaller remnants you'll encounter.

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Local Weather Zip Codes

Key Largo - 33037
Marathon - 33050
Key West - 33040