Middle Keys Snorkeling After Hurricane Irma?

By Anonymous
Any reports about how Middle Keys snorkeling was affected by Hurricane Irma? What are the conditions of the reefs and is snorkeling worth it? We’re heading there in a couple of weeks, December, 2017.


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Pam S – Dec 3, 2017 – Our Experience

We just returned from a Thanksgiving trip to the Keys. We snorkeled Grecian Rocks and White Banks out of Key Largo and Sombrero Reef out of Marathon. We had windy conditions which made for a not so great experience, especially with visibility in Sombrero, which was extremely poor.

As far as the condition of the reefs, we were surprised at how well the soft corals and fans survived, especially at Grecian Rocks. We did not see much hard coral, but since this was our first time we were unsure if this was due to Irma or just the way it is. There was quite a bit of sand at Sombrero Reef as well.

We were also surprised by the lack of variety of fish, everywhere. We did see a lot of barracuda, some quite large which was exciting, many angels (Gray, French and Queen) and a large moray eel and a gorgeous, large filefish. Missing were the large schools of fish you always see at the reefs.

All in all, our favorite spot was Grecian Rocks which seemed to be the healthiest to us.

Pat – Dec 12, 2017 – Snorkeling Keys

Does anyone know how the snorkeling in the Dry Tortugas fared after Irma?

AMyreen – Jan 29, 2018 – Middle Keys Snorkeling

We snorkeled from Key Largo and from Marathon and it was all wonderful. We hadn’t been there before the hurricane so could not have anything to compare to, but we were fully impressed with the variety of fish and the beauty of the reefs. At Marathon we snorkeled on a tour provided by Captain Pips and it was fantastic. At Key Largo we snorkeled on tour provided by the State Park. Was all like a wonderful dream. Have fun.

Nicole & Galen – Feb 22, 2018 – Looe Key Report

Hi folks, Pam shared a report about her experience snorkeling Looe Key in February 2018 as a comment on the Snorkel Tour to Looe Key page. Sounds like the reef fared pretty well overall.

Dave – Mar 9, 2018 – Dry Tortugas

We snorkeled at the Dry Tortugas on 3/5/18. It was a bit windy and wavy, but nothing to deter us. The visibility off of the south shore beach was poor. Out at the coral heads were snappers, grunts, jacks, Sergeant Majors, big barracuda, and Mutton Snappers. The south coaling pier had better visibility and a nice variety of fish, including a big Spotted Trunkfish.

Having snorkeled the same spots in 2011, I’d say that the variety of fish is down somewhat, but the poor visibility makes a comparison difficult.

Foxx – Aug 2, 2018 – Stick to the Upper Keys

Sombrero Reef was my favorite spot to snorkel and well worth the extra hour drive from Miami – before Irma. Now it’s completely covered in sand and sediment. It was declared a tier 1 disaster area following Irma. It will rebound, I’m sure, but it will take time. Looe Key was hit very hard too from what I hear.

The upper keys are hit or miss. Some reefs had minimal damage. Others are covered in sediment as well. I went out to two spots off Key Largo recently and was not impressed but they weren’t the spots I’m used to going (White Banks, Hen & Chickens, and Grecian Rocks). I am hoping to check out the spots I’m used to soon but there was a current last time I was out.

Erin – Aug 7, 2018 – Keys Snorkeling Since Irma

Snorkeled the Keys a month after Irma when they were first going back out. We found Dry Rocks off Key West to be very good, big fish counts and reef in good condition. We had a similar experience at Alligator Reef – reef was still gorgeous and high fish counts and some nice nurse sharks and a few green sea turtles. We also snorkeled the Christ statue area and found it to be in good shape as well, although the fish counts were not as high in this area.

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