Hi! I'm Park Ranger Astrid Rybeck
and together we'll explore the six shipwrecks
that make up Biscayne National Park's
Maritime Heritage Trail.
Each ship tells a different story,
and contributes to the maritime history
that is unique to Biscayne National Park.
Ships of all nationalities and all sizes
have navigated these waters.
Let's talk about Biscayne's natural features
which were so vital in shaping
the human history of Biscayne National Park.
The park has four different ecosystems
that all work together:
a mangrove shoreline,
the crystal clear waters of Biscayne Bay,
the northern portion of the Florida Keys,
and the northern portion of
the shallow Florida coral reef.
It is the beauty and the wealth
of these natural features
that have drawn people to
this area for over 10,000 years.
From homesteaders to millionaires,
to native people and pirates,
these natural features have
shaped the stories of the people
who have called Biscayne home.
The outer waters of the park have long been
a 'superhighway' for marine trade and commerce.
The northward flowing Gulf Stream has,
and continues to,
carry goods, ideas, and cultures
around the tip of Florida
to ports all around the world.
While many ships made it safely
to their destinations,
many others did not.
A combination of perfectly
occurring natural features
in the eastern waters
of Biscayne National Park
was often fatal for sailing ships.
Whether headed north or south,
sailing captains had to battle
easterly winds, shallow reefs,
uncharted waters, and strong currents.
The waters of Biscayne National Park
the ghosts of over 400 years of maritime traffic.
Park scientists have identified
over fifty shipwrecks in the park.
But while the identities of
some of these have been uncovered,
many still hold secrets.
From Spanish galleons
to English man of wars,
from modern cruisers to unknown remnants
of events long since forgotten,
Biscayne National Park's
Maritime Heritage Trail
serves to literally submerge
visitors into history.
Come see how
a 19th-century wooden sailing ship
left only ballast stones behind
as a clue to its identity.
Explore "Lugano," which at one time
was the largest ship ever
to have wrecked upon the shallow reef patches.
Divers can enjoy exploring "Arratoon Apcar,"
a ship that slammed into the reef
only a few hundred yards away
from horrified men building a lighthouse
to warn vessels away from that very spot.
Snorkelers will marvel
at the ruins of "Mandalay,"
the most recent wreck on the Trail.
The wreck of "Erl King"
represents a major transition
from ships powered by sail to
ships powered by steam.
History will open up with
the remains of "Alicia,"
one of the last big ships
to be salvaged by traditional 'Keys Wreckers',.
Each of the shipwrecks
on the trail tells a unique story.
Most of them lie in about
20 feet of water
giving experienced divers
and first time snorkelers
the opportunity to view
these magnificent pieces of history
while ensuring that the ship's remains
will be around for many years
of exploration and enjoyment.
Each site has permanent
mooring balls installed,
so private boaters can discover the wrecks
without having to worry
about dropping an anchor onto the wrecks
or the fragile ecosystems that surround them.
You can help protect the stories
and the futures of all of these ships
by remembering that these six sites,
like all of the archeological sites
in Biscayne National Park,
are part of our shared heritage.
Leave the sites as you find them.
Please take only pictures
and leave only bubbles.
Dive into history
and discover the stories behind
the shipwrecks of
Biscayne's Maritime Heritage Trail.