As long as people have lived in Southwest Florida they have been navigating its waters. For just as long, hurricanes, geological features and other forces have claimed some of these ships, from Native American dugouts and Spanish galleons to modern-day trawlers and freighters. Shipwrecks that exist today play a vital role in the tapestry of the area’s unique history, and provide reef ecosystems for more than 200 species of marine life. They also serve to enhance recreational opportunities for anglers and divers.
Whether you are interested in exploring Southwest Florida’s shipwrecks to discover the mysteries of our maritime past, or simply to catch a monster grouper, the following well-known locations can provide good starting-points for your shipwreck experience.
1919: The Bayronto
26°45.830 / 82°50.860
This 400′ freighter survived being torpedoed by a German U-boat in July 1918. A year later, the Bayronto succumbed to hurricane conditions and sank in 100′ of water.
1942: The Baja California
25°21.522 / 82°31.901
This 265′ freighter was en route to Guatemala in July of 1942 when a German U-boat put two torpedoes through her hull. The ship sank in 115′ of water between Fort Myers and the Florida Keys.
1968: The Stoney Point
26°10.273 / 82°54.574
This is the resting place of the former Hudson River ferry that was scuttled in 1968.
1992: The Roatan Express
26°20.358 / 83°22.027
This 180′ steel-hulled offshore supply ship made numerous trips between Tampa and Honduras before sinking in rough seas about 80 miles west of Fort Myers in September 1992
1993: The Fantastico
26°17.775 / 82°50.082
The “No-Name” storm of 1993 claimed more ships than Hurricane Andrew. This Honduran freighter sank on March 13 as it carried a load of fertilizer from Miami to Tampa. The 205′ shipwreck sits in 115′ of water about 50 miles off Fort Myers.
Did you know?
All shipwrecks in Florida waters are protected under the Florida Historical Resources Act, which protects these marine archaeological sites on state-owned or controlled lands and submerged bottomlands from unauthorized disturbance, excavation, or removal of artifacts.