The Florida Maritime Heritage Trail 
Coastal CommunitiesCoastal EnvironmentsCoastal FortsLighthousesHistoric PortsHistoric Shipwrecks
USCG Duane

USCG Cutter Duane.
Photo courtesy of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

    Travelling by water is often easier than travelling over land, but it is sometimes more dangerous. Weather, warfare, and navigational hazards and errors have led to countless ship losses, leaving behind a submerged record of human maritime history. Shipwrecks are time capsules that reflect the culture and technology of people long ago and offer opportunities to learn from their successes and failures. As we continue to explore underwater, reaching greater depths each year, new discoveries reveal more about what happened in history.

Emanuel Point

Emanuel Point ship in Pensacola Bay.
Photo courtesy of the Florida Division of Historical Resources.

    Favorable winds and currents and profitable trade routes have brought hundreds of thousands of ships to Florida's shores. War, piracy, hurricanes, and treacherous shoals have contributed to the loss of several thousand vessels in Florida waters. The coastline of Florida can be a welcome sight for deepwater mariners. It also is a trap for unlucky ships. The remains of ships and the cargoes they contain all have a story to tell. The real treasure of Florida's shipwrecks, however, is in the opportunity they provide for us to explore the past and preserve it for the future.

    Interpretation of historic shipwreck sites, such as those on the Florida Maritime Heritage Trail, can lead to a better understanding of these unique cultural resources. Visitors are encouraged to explore the 15 sunken ships on the Trail and to "take only pictures, leave only bubbles."


Copenhagen off Pompano Beach.
Photo courtesy of the Florida Division of Historical Resources.

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Florida Coastal Management Program This web page was funded in part by the Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Coastal Management Program, pursuant to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Award No. NA97OZ0158. The views expressed in herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the State of Florida, NOAA, or any of its subagencies.
National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration