Watch The Ana Cecilia Ship Sinking Off Riviera Beach, And Go Underwater For A Tour Of The New Artificial Reef

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by Lyssa Goldberg Jul 14, 2016 03:14 PM

Locals have a new reef to explore off the coast of Riviera Beach.

A historic cargo ship was scuttled (or sunk) off the Lake Worth Inlet on Wednesday, July 13, adding to Palm Beach County's underwater network of artificial reefs.

Named the Ana Cecilia, the ship carries a storied past that includes making the first cargo delivery from Miami to Cuba after 50 years of embargo, as well as being used in an attempt to smuggle $10 million worth of cocaine into the country. 

As part of a Homeland Security investigation into drug importing via the Miami River, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized the cargo ship in 2015 and found more than 386 bricks of cocaine aboard. The ship was later donated to Palm Beach County in support of its system of more than 150 artificial reefs.

“The Ana Cecelia will now provide a much more positive contribution to the people of South Florida,” Robert Hutchinson, Homeland Security Investigations Acting Special Agent in Charge, said in a release.  

The new reef is dedicated to Palm Beach County community members who have been lost at sea, with plaques affixed to the ship honoring Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos, the Tequesta teens who went missing last summer, as well as Fernandez Jones, Jaden Jones and Willis Bell, whose boat capsized off the coast of Stuart in April.

Now located about 1.25 miles off shore, the Ana Cecilia has joined 11 other reefs that have been scuttled in the immediate area. These artificial reefs are meant to draw divers away from natural ones, in order to protect and preserve them.

“These artificial reefs provide numerous benefits, the most important being that they take pressure off natural coral reef formations by providing additional places for fishing and diving," County Vice Mayor Hal Valeche said in the release.

Within 48 hours (which would be Friday, July 15), divers can expect to see fish investigating the new reef, according to Samantha Corr of Palm Beach County's department of environmental resources management. Some of the marine life swimming in area waters may include Goliath Grouper, sea turtles, thorny oysters and green moray eels.

Algae, sponges and sea squirts—or invertebrate marine life that attach themselves to docks, rocks and the undersides of boats—may also begin to colonize the ship's surface in the next eight months, she said.

Watch as divers explore the sunken ship:

For the full sinking, watch this video below:

the sunken ship

(Underwater video courtesy Scuba Nation. Map courtesy Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management)


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