A new artificial reef, consisting of a 157-foot former luxury cruise liner destroyed in Hurricane Michael, is now accessible to fishermen and divers in Panama City. The El Dorado was wrecked in the category 5 storm that hit the Florida panhandle in October 2018. Since then, the ship was a half-floating and painful reminder of the storm’s destruction to the area. On May 3, 2019 the El Dorado was sunk 12 nautical miles south of St. Andrews Pass to improve marine life and provide a new exciting destination for area fishermen and divers.
“This artificial reef is a testament that even the darkest clouds can have a silver lining,” says Jennifer Vigil, Destination Panama City president and CEO. “The action taken to repurpose the vessel is just one of the ways that the community has proven their strength and resilience in the face of disaster.”
This joint effort between the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Bay County, not only turns trash into treasure, but will further promote both the fishing and diving industries in Panama City. Panama City’s history and culture has been determined by water, offering more marinas per capita than many similarly sized coastal destinations. The cities three marinas, Panama City Marina, St. Andrews Marina and Sun Harbor Marina, are a draw for divers and fisherman looking to access the St. Andrews Bay and Gulf of Mexico.
“This is a win-win for Bay County. Not only were we able to help clean up St. Andrews Bay by removing this large, derelict vessel, but now we can use it as a reef to benefit our local economy,” says Bill Dozier, Bay County Commissioner. “Artificial reefs are tremendously beneficial to our area. The longer we can keep reefs out there and add to our inventory, the better off our tourism industry will be, which in turn helps all of Bay County.”
ABOUT PANAMA CITY
Embraced by beautiful St. Andrews Bay, Northwest Florida’s Panama City offers ideal conditions for world-class sailing, year-round in-shore and off-shore fishing and a myriad of water sports. Nearby Shell Island, an uninhabited barrier island with beautiful white sand beaches, features dolphin excursions. Off the water, visitors delight in the sunny destination’s eclectic historic neighborhoods offering a thriving visual and performing arts scene, diverse shopping, a range of dining options and the Panama City Oyster Trail. To contact Destination Panama City directly call 850-215-1700. Please visit destinationpanamacity.com, and follow on Facebook and Instagram. Join the conversation at #PContheBay.