Shipwreck trail aims to lure divers to the Panhandle

Posted: 05/11/2012 in all marine news

Valerie Garman – 

Wetsuit, check.

Air tank, check.

Mask, check.

Area divers will soon be adding “passport” to their equipment checklists as they dive the new Panhandle Shipwreck Trail, set to launch in late May.

Through the development of the trail, divers will be able to track their underwater journeys in Northwest Florida by passport in an effort by the Florida Division of Historical Resources to bring divers to the Panhandle again and again.

It will feature 12 shipwrecks, starting in Pensacola and ending with the wreck of the Vamar in Port St. Joe.

Lindsay Smith, an underwater archaeologist with the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research, is part of a small team developing the trail through a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“The shipwrecks are amazing, there’s just a wonderful variety (in the Panhandle),” said Smith, who noted it was difficult to pinpoint only 12 wrecks.

“They’re all very close together and there’s just so many to choose from.

There are tons of wrecks in the Panhandle, and we’re only highlighting 12 of them.”

Smith said the ultimate goal in the development of the trail is to help boost the dive economy throughout the region.

“The Panhandle has a very strong diving community,” Smith said. “As far as Scuba shops, there’s probably about 20.”

Full story…

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