Molasses Reef – Key Largo Sanctuary Preservation Area
The Molasses Reef Sanctuary Preservation Area is the most heavily visited coral reef in the Upper Keys – perhaps the world – for scuba diving. And for good reason! Molasses is famous for its clear water, many fish, and numerous boulder corals. It is a classic outer reef with a well-defined spur and groove system of coral development. At the central portion of Molasses, offshore of the light, are a large ship’s winch and historic Spanish anchor. Sea Dwellers Dive Center of Key Largo offers daily scuba diving excursions to this beautiful area. There over 30 marked key largo dive sites located within this reef area, making it the biggest in the Florida Keys.
Molasses Reef is located within the boundaries of the Key Largo Existing Management Area, formerly Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary. Most of the coral reefs in the Keys exhibit a large amount and variety of marine life due to protections in place, but Molasses Reef is one of the best examples of this. According to The Reef Environmental Education Foundation, (REEF), Molasses Reef is one of the top reefs in the Caribbean for abundance and diversity of Marine Life, (as is French Reef also found off Key Largo).
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In the past few years, scuba divers have noticed that Caribbean Reef Sharks have seen a significant increase in numbers on Molasses Reef, as well as a few other reefs in the Key Largo area. Sharks are vital to coral reef ecology according to the Coral Reef Alliance.
Molasses Reef Dive Sites
Most of the dive sites are found in the 15 to 50 foot range, with an area seaward in the 65 foot range. Many of the Molasses Reef dive sites are known for different attributes relating to marine life and/or bottom composition. Some of the most popular dive sites found here are the “Winch Hole”, the “Spanish Anchor” and the “Canyons”.