Key Largo, FL. -- After less then 6 months after the Spiegel Grove was sunk off Key Largo, Florida, there have been lots of fish populations moving into the area. Even before the ship was all the way to the bottom, divers had reported seeing juvenile Purple Reef fish, Blue Runners, numerous Planehead Filefish, Bluelip Parrotfish, and Striped Grunts. The Spiegel Grove is the largest ship ever to be intentionally made into an artificial reef. The retired Navy transport ship prematurely sunk and rolled over May 17 and was finally placed on its starboard side on the bottom June 11. Since then, many divers have been in awe of such a large wreck and increasing fish diversity.
As part of the permit to place the Spiegel Grove into the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary waters, Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) was asked by The Upper Keys Artificial Reef Foundation (UKARF) to conduct pre-deployment and periodic monitoring of the wreck and adjacent natural and artificial reef sites. REEF is monitoring fish presence/absence and relative abundance at the Spiegel Grove site and adjacent areas throughout a five-year period to document the recruitment of fish and changes of fish populations. REEF will be conducting its 4th monitoring event December 12-15 at the Spiegel Grove and adjacent sites.
The monitoring team is made up of REEF's Advanced Assessment Team (AAT) members. These volunteers REEF members have all achieved a level 4 or 5 experience level on 100 advanced fish and have considerable experience and expertise in surveying local fish populations to conduct these monitoring events. "Diving on the Spiegel Grove as part of REEF's AAT has been an eye-opening experience for me" says Dave Grenda, a REEF volunteer. "Witnessing the sequence and speed of fish recruitment on the Spiegel Grove has been surprising. REEF's monitoring efforts has resulted in some interesting findings along the way - like how quickly certain parrotfish and filefish have made this ship their home. It's fascinating seeing how the growth of life on the ship's structure is influencing the types and abundance of fish species throughout time."
To date 39 expert and 14 novice surveys have been conducted on the Spiegel Grove. Over 125 species of fish have been documented including a resident Goliath Grouper (previously know as Jew Fish), mutton snapper, and black grouper, as well as many bluehead wrasse, tomtates, bar jacks, bicolor damselfish, ocean surgeonfish, round scad, stripped grunts and many others. You can view Spiegel Grove’s data on REEF’s website at www.reef.org. For more information on REEF’s AAT or Spiegel Grove monitoring projects call REEF at 305-852-0030.