San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve

San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve

Located 1.25 nautical miles offshore of Lower Matecumbe Key, the San Pedro is among Florida's oldest artificial reefs.

On Friday, July 13 1733, she departed Havana Cuba, as part of a Spanish treasure fleet bound for Spain. The next day a hurricane scattered the fleet over 30 miles of the Florida Keys, and all but one of the three galleons and eighteen merchant ships perished in the storm. The Spanish crown salvaged part of their cargo of tanned hides, rare spices, silver, gold, and jewels, in the 1730's.

Although the remaining treasure and numerous artifacts were recovered in the 1960's, the shipwrecks has many features of historical intrest, such as the ship's ballast stones, typically dense stones from European river beds, that were stacked in the lower holds of the sailing ship to increase stability.

Established as an Archaeological Preserve on April 1, 1989, the site is now protected as part of Florida's Shipwreck Park System. The San Pedro is representative of the European Colonial era of Florida's maritime heritage, and offers visitors a vivid sen se of history while viewing an actual shipwreck site. The park includes ship's remains, an eighteenth century anchor, replica cannons, ballast stones encrusted with coral, Dedication Plaque, and a mooring buoy system to facilitate boat visitation.

Indiana University's Underwater Science program has been instrumental in development of the Underwater Guide to the site. The guide, available to snorkelers and divers who visit San Pedro, describes the historical and biological significance of the site.

The San Pedro Shipwreck site plan has been documented using Photographic Imaging Technique (PIT). PIT was developed by Indiana University to aid in documentation of cultural and biological underwater resources.

Since the establishment of the site, Underwater Science Program students and faculty have been coming back periodicaly to monitor the site. San Pedro gives students a unique opprtunity to study underwater archeology and marine biology while mastering thei r diving and underwater documentation skills. The primary underwater documentation techniques involve preparation of accurate site plan and site features drawings, still photography, and video documetation.

For additional information and materials about the San Pedro Archaeological Preserve contact Florida's Bureau of Archaeological Research or Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Indiana University
Underwater Science Program
Last updated: 22 October 2001
Questions or Comments: Underwater Science Program
Copyright 2001, The Trustees of Indiana University