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San Pedro
Photo courtesy of William L. Trotter and the Underwater Archaeological Preserves, Florida Division of Historical Resources

The San Pedro, a wooden-hulled Dutch-built sailing ship, was one of 21 merchant ships loaded with tanned hides, spices, jewels, silver and gold in a flota (fleet) headed to Spain from Havana, Cuba, in the summer of 1733 when a hurricane off the coast of the Florida Keys wrecked all but one of the ships. The ships were salvaged for their precious cargo and those vessels that could be refloated were taken back to Havana. Those ships that could not make the journey, including the San Pedro, were burned down to the waterline. It took years to complete the salvage effort but eventually more treasure was recovered from the wrecks of the 1733 flota than had been recorded on the ships' manifests, evidence of illegal smuggling.

[photo] San Pedro (shipwreck)
Photo courtesy of Indiana University and the Florida Maritime Heritage Trail, Florida Division of Historical Resources

The wreck of the San Pedro was rediscovered in the 1960s and proved to be very profitable for those involved in the modern day salvage effort as the sunken vessel contained thousands of silver coins and other artifacts. Bottom sediments cover the wreck of the vessel, which is made up of a ballast mound 90 feet long by 30 feet wide and lies from the northwest to the southeast. The remains of the ship that were not covered by sand have long since been consumed by sea worms or carried away with the current. In 1977, the wreck site was surveyed by Florida's Underwater Archaeological Research Section and the ballast mound was recorded and mapped. In 1989, it became the state's second Underwater Archeological Preserve. Today, the wreck is stable and has reached a state of equilibrium with its environment. The San Pedro is among Florida's oldest artificial reefs.

The San Pedro is the subject of an online lesson plan produced by Teaching with Historic Places, a National Register program that offers classroom-ready lesson plans on properties listed in the National Register. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

The San Pedro rests in 18-20 ft. of water about 1¼ nautical miles south of Indian Key. The ship shelters a wide variety of marine organisms and lies within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The shipwreck is part of a Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve, and a laminated underwater guide is available from local dive shops. The preserve is open to the public year round, free of charge.


[graphic] Florida Shipwrecks' Essays

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