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Pickle Barrel Wreck Is A Fantastic
And Unusual Diving Key Largo Site

The Pickle Barrel Wreck is one of those many Florida Keys mystery ships whose story sank with her.

Perhaps one day, someone will determine her identity and bring her history back to life.

Til then, we need to be content with the remains she's left us with, and the benefit she's created for the marine life in the Upper Florida Keys.

This Civil War wreck is positioned about 2.5 miles off Molasses Reef at a patch reef now called Pickles.

This vessel had been traveling south, carrying a large cargo of cement in pickle barrel containers. Since it was during the Civil War, it's thought she was most likely delivering these supplies to the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson which was being built.

It's also possible that she may have even been en route to Key West to bring the cement to either the East Martello or West Martello Tower as they were also under construction.

We don't know what happened when she hit the coral reef, whether she sank immediately or slowly took on water. However, the end result was that she and her cargo eventually went under.

The wood barrels that held the cement weren't water proof, and so the inevitable happened. The water mixed with the cement and formed concrete.

Wreck Diving Conditions

As the years passed, the barrels eroded and what was left were the perfectly shaped concrete cylinders you'll find when in the area Key Largo diving.

Courtesy and fantasticendeavors
Pickle Barrel Wreck

The vessel's numerous remains are scattered over this wreck diving site, at about 15 feet in depth. Since the water is clear and shallow, anyone Florida Keys snorkeling or diving this wreck site will easily discover them in the sand, nestled among the different coral and sea grasses.

With a depth ranging from 6 - 30 feet, both the wreck and the reef present a variety of opportunities for anyone Florida Keys diving and snorkeling.

You'll find that the numerous ledges, nooks and crannies have become the perfect hiding spot for a variety of marine life including spiny lobster, and eel.

The Key Largo dive site also has a broad variety of colorful coral and sponges, along with a multitude of tropical fish and juvenile Florida game fish.

This is one of nicer and less trafficked Florida Keys dives. Once here, you'll find it very easy to spend several hours exploring, and after, you can plan on an easy second Florida Keys dive or snorkel at busier but beautiful Molasses Reef.

If you're a diver looking for a bit more of a challenge, head over to popular Deep Molasses where you can reach a depth of 90 feet as you descend along the mini-wall.

At-A-Glance Wreck Diving Description
and GPS Coordinates

Wreck Name
Pickle Barrel Wreck on Pickles Reef - believed to have been a mid-1800's barge
About 2.5 miles from Molasses Reef at Pickles Reef
GPS Coordinates
24 59.170N 080 24.940W
3 mooring buoys
Novice and snorkel site
6 - 30'
Dive Site Description
If you're looking for a pristine site when diving Upper Keys this site is a good choice as it's not frequented as often as other sites.
Marine Life
Pillar coral and other varieties of gorgonian coral, sea fans, nurse shark, sea fans, ocean sponges, spiny lobster, crab, queen conch, angelfish, parrotfish, blue tang, barracuda, yellowtail, green moray eel

Knowing the history behind a wreck always adds that extra "something" when wreck diving However, when you don't know the facts, it can be a lot of fun to speculate, and search for clues to provide the missing pieces to the unsolved puzzle.

Who knows? Perhaps you'll uncover some hidden tidbit buried in the sand or grassy areas, which will finally determine the name and story behind the Pickle Barrel Wreck.

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Local Weather Zip Codes

Key Largo - 33037
Marathon - 33050
Key West - 33040