The Wreck of the Thunderbolt
MARATHON — MM63-47
As seen from the air, Marathon and the Middle Keys appear as emerald isles set amid a sea of turquoise. Marathon's reefs offer great variety in coral formations and fish life. The crystalline waters of the Atlantic Ocean reveal a marine wilderness comprised of an extensive spur-and-groove coral complex and numerous well-developed patch reefs. Each reef is populated by a vast array of Caribbean tropical fish and invertebrates, with the fascinating addition of both modern and historical shipwrecks to complete the tremendous sport dive appeal of the region. For more information on Marathon, drop by the Chamber of Commerce at mile marker 53.5 or call 1-800-262-7284.
- Adelaide Baker — This historic shipwreck features a pair of huge stacks in only 25 feet of water, a vivid reminder of the days when steamships plied the Florida Keys.
- Sombrero Reef — This traditional favorite of the Marathon dive portfolio is marked by a 140-foot lighted tower. Coral canyons and archways provide refuge for schools of grunt and snapper while solitary barracuda appear to stand sentinel.
- Coffin's Patch — This is not a single reef but a conglomerate of six distinct patch reefs, each with a unique identity defined by a predominant coral species. For example, at Pillar Coral Patch dozens of intact pillar coral heads thrust their fuzzy polyps to snare passing nutrients. Snorkelers will especially appreciate the shallow elkhorn forests found throughout Coffin's Patch in less than 20 feet of water.
- Delta Shoals — Here a vast network of coral canyons fan seaward from a sandy shoal, offering wonderful opportunities for both diving and snorkeling amid elkhorn, brain, and star coral heads.
- The Thunderbolt — This 189-foot ship is the queen of the Marathon wreck fleet. Sunk intentionally as a dive attraction on March 6, 1986, she sits perfectly upright in 120 feet of water. Before her sinking, the ship was stripped of all but a few pieces of equipment. Its most prominent features are a cable-handling reel centered on the forecastle at approximately 80 feet and an observation deck at 75 feet. Aft, the rudder and propellers sit at 120 feet. The stern was cut away to expose the hull's interior. Her superstructure is coated with colorful sponge, coral, and hydroid, providing refuge and sustenance to large angelfish, jacks, and a variety of deep-water pelagic creatures.