A dive shop in Key Largo sent about two dozen divers to various diving locales to assess what damage Hurricane Irma did to the underwater landscape and what they discovered was a pleasant surprise.
Divers from Rainbow Reef Dive Center checked out corals at Molasses Reef, Grecian Rocks, the Christ of the Abyss state and French Reef, along with several shipwrecks, according to the Miami Herald.
"Some of the reefs have gotten deeper because sand moved," Rainbow Reef Dive Center general manager Billy Wise told the Herald. "It's a little like diving a new site.
"I was expecting to see more dead fans, but it seems like most of them came through OK."
Compared to what they thought they would find, the reefs "look spectacular," Wise told the Herald.
"We had seven boats out Saturday," he said. "Everybody I talked to at the dock was positive and said everything looks great."
One of the more interesting discoveries was found near the wreckage of the World War II freighter Benwood. It was an anchor that had been covered by sand for decades.
"That was an incredible find," Wise told the Herald. "It's as cool looking as anything."
On the shipwreck reef Duane, a retired U.S. Coast Guard cutter, a top section of a smokestack was removed by the hurricane. "It kind of make it more interesting," Wise said.
Other shipwrecks, including the big Spiegel Grove wreck that was rolled upright by a weaker storm, appear to be in tact.
"All in all, we're ready and happy to be letting visitors come back in," Wise said. "We want to let people know that not everything is negative.
Meanwhile, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is assessing the impact of Hurricane Irma to the underwater environment.
"A Category 4 storm caused serious damage on land and, undoubtedly, created changes in the waters surrounding the Florida Keys," the sanctuary's Facebook page said.
Assessments of the impacts to sanctuary resources are being coordinated with local and state governments, nongovernmental organizations and academic research and monitoring partners.
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