The coral reefs off Miami-Dade County’s shores received some relief from the pressure of recreational divers and fishermen with the sinking of its newest artificial reef known as the Ophelia Brian. The Miami-Dade Reef Guard Association (MIRA), in carrying out its mission of protecting and safeguarding Miami-Dade’s coral reefs, solicited and received a generous donation so they could arrange for the placement of this new vessel, especially since there has not been a sinking since 2004.
The 210 foot freighter, built in 1965 by J.J. Sietas in Hamburg, Germany christened Hoheburg and lastly called Sea Taxi, became the Ophelia Brian when she sunk at a pre-permitted site off Key Biscayne recently. The vessel is a sister ship to two very popular, previously sunk Miami-Dade artificial reefs -- the Ultra Freeze and the Deep Freeze. It's been renamed several times in the past 40 years, most recently called the Sea Taxi, as you can see painted on the side of the vessel, in this photo taken just prior to being scuttled.
The artificial reef created by the wreck site will provide recreational diving, ecotourism and fishing to the residents of Miami-Dade County and visitors from all over the world. MIRA’s purchase of Ophelia Brian was made possible by a generous donation from the Brian and Lavinia Snyder Foundation, solicited by Captain Mike Beach, who spearheaded the project.
They chose to rename the wreck after their daughter, Ophelia, for her eighteenth birthday in 2010. The Ophelia Brian artificial reef site will assist in diverting diving and fishing pressure from natural coral reefs in the area.
The MIRA organization is selling medallions and stickers for $10 a piece in order to continue to raise funds for Miami-Dade County artificial reef and mooring buoy programs. For more information, call 305-861-6277 or visit reefguard.org and look for a list of dive shops where you can purchase a medallion.
Robin V. Burr, Scuba Examiner
Personal Scuba Instruction
Miami, Florida USA