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Diver returns to Key Largo to dive Christ of the Abyss Statue

(DiverWire) Gabe Spateros, 81, has been an avid diver since 1956. Back in the 1960’s, he helped play a part in sinking the Christ of the Abyss Statue in the waters new Key Largo, Florida. He hasn’t done much diving recently due to macular degeneration that has impaired his vision. But, recently he was able to return to Key Largo to explore the statue once again.

It’s a classic story -Spateros expressed his desire to dive at the Christ of the Abyss Statue in Key Largo.  Spateros, a restaurateur from Chicago, met Egidio Cressi, the Italian Scuba Entrepreneur, during a wine tour in Italy.  Cressi donated this Statue to the Underwater Society of America in 1962.  Spateros volunteered to assist him in bringing the Statue to the United States. Spateros coordinated the effort of transporting the Statue from Genoa, Italy via Chicago, IL to Key Largo, FL and installed at no cost.

Spateros met with John Pennekamp and was one of the instrumental people who helped select the appropriate dive site for the statue to be placed for the world to see.  The Christ of the Abyss statue is a 9-foot tall, 4000 pound bronze statue that has been placed in the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The Statue sits in 18 feet deep water and is one of the most popular site for snorkelers and divers worldwide.  This underwater statute has become Key Largo’s trademark.

Here is Gabe Spateros’ interview:

Spateros finally returned to Key Largo 51 years later, to see the now world famous diving landmark. Saturday, May 19, 2013, was a beautiful sunny Key Largo afternoon for Spateros and his support divers from Diveheart to go diving.

A word of advice for the many who wish to visit the Christ of the Abyss Statue in Key Largo sometimes referred to as “Touchdown Jesus” by local captains: Don’t touch Christ because that warm tingly feeling isn’t a religious experience, it’s fire coral.

Diveheart volunteers included Jim Elliot, founder of Diveheart, Michael Kaufman, Scuba Siren Wilhemina Stanton, Chuck Baldwin, owner of US1 Scuba. Also diving with Mr. Spateros was Eric Douglas, author and Scuba Diving Magazine columnist , John Cole from History of Diving Museum, D.J. Wood owner of Rainbow Reef Dive Center, and from ScubaBoard Peter Murray, Elena Rodriguez and Wyzmar Clealand. Special thanks to Rainbow Reef Dive Center, Captain Dean and the crew of Tropical Voyager, and also to Cressi for supplying the scuba gear for Mr. Spateros’ dive.