National Geographic : 1962 Jan
KEY LARGO CORAL REEF America's First Undersea Park By CHARLES M. BROOKFIELD Photographsby JERRY GREENBERG ALMOST within sight of the oceanside palaces of Miami Beach, a pencil-thin chain of islands begins its 221-mile sweep southwest to the Dry Tortugas. Just offshore, paralleling the scimitar curve of these Florida Keys, lies an under sea rampart of exquisite beauty - a living coral reef, the only one of its kind in United States continental waters. Brilliant tropical fish dart about its multicolored coral gardens. Part of the magnificent reef, a segment rough ly 21 nautical miles long by 4 wide, off Key Largo, has been dedicated as America's first undersea park. I know this reef intimately. For more than 30 years I have sailed its warm, clear waters and probed its shifting sands and bizarre for mations in quest of sunken ships and their treasure of artifacts. Snorkel diver (opposite, right) glides above brain coral into a fantastic underseascape of elkhorn and staghorn in the new preserve off Key Largo, Florida.