Diving on wrecks is a great way to explore the oceans. UNSPLASH

We had decent conditions this past week up through the weekend. Unfortunately, the gusts came through after that, and sustained high winds made dives more challenging. While conditions held up, we were able to complete a three-wreck trip out to the Duane, the Eagle and the yellow submarine barge. 

In the Florida Keys, we have lots of shipwrecks. From some infamous vessels that were part of the 1779 Spanish Galleon fleet to more modern artificial reefs like the Spiegel Grove and the Vandenberg, we’ve got a little something for everyone. 

Wreck treks are popular and unique ways to enjoy some of these awesome archeological, historical and ecological wonders. The IDC wreck trek allows divers to enjoy three deeper wrecks during a one-day dive trip. This is one more shipwreck than the traditional two-tank, two-dive charters in the Keys. 

Divers are required to be PADI Advanced Open Water certified and have their “Enriched Air” specialty. This is also popularly called “having your Nitrox.” I recommend the Nitrox certification to all my divers. It’s an easy course that takes just a few hours and costs $99.

As you may recall from your PADI Open Water certification course, dive time is dictated by air consumption and the nitrogen load in your blood. Using enriched air or nitrox allows divers to use a gas source for scuba diving that is enriched with more oxygen than normal air. There’s less nitrogen in your scuba tank, meaning there’s less in your body. With that, your “no decompression” time is extended and you can safely stay down longer. 

Using enriched air is also very helpful if you’re doing multiple dives in a day. For multiple deep dives, like on our Wreck Trek, it is absolutely necessary. 

Duane – A diver uses nitrox to explore the wreck of the Duane. TIFFANY DUONG/Keys Weekly

Next Week’s Dive Report

This week looks “doable.” We’ll still have medium winds stirring up more than a surface chop on the seas. This can also affect visibility below. 

Conservation Update

ICARE outplantings were held off this weekend due to the winds, but we were able to get out and do some coral maintenance. This includes cleaning corals, removing coral-eating snails and monitoring the health of past outplantings.  Maintenance dives are free to locals. Contact Islamorada Dive Center or Key Dives for more information.

Conservation Tip

Nitrox diving allows you to visit a greater variety of ecosystems because you can go deeper, for longer. Spreading out our diver impact over more areas is a good way to protect our marine habitats.


Corals are well suited to survive waves and choppy seas. In fact, their asexual reproductive practices (via fragmentation) require some agitation to loosen a fragment.

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Eric Billips is is the owner, captain and instructor at Islamorada Dive Center and Floridia Keys Dive Center. He specializes in scuba, rebreather, spearfishing and captaining in the Florida Keys