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Why the Reefs Are Treacherous

November 1st, 2012 by Piper Smith

The chain of coral reefs stretching from Key West to the Dry Tortugas is about 200 miles long, which is separated from the Keys by a shallow, narrow channel called Hawks Channel. The most popular shipping route for maritime shipping between the eastern coast of the US and the ports in the Gulf of Mexico is and was the Gulf Stream. Because ships were often laden with heavy cargo, the powerful currents would easily push ships into the reefs of the Florida Keys causing them to run aground and eventually sink. In fact, it is reported that during the 19th century, wrecks occurred at the rate of once a week!

Painting of Gulf Stream

A Painting of the Gulf Stream by Winslow Homer