The site commonly known as the Spanish Anchor is among the most frequented cultural sites in the Molasses Reef area, largely due to the wonder associated to its historical context and biological diversity (Indiana University 1998). Due to the ambiguity of the site’s origin and age, feature history remains relatively unknown and unattached to any known shipwreck. The site was surveyed in 1989, 1996, and 1998 by Indiana University, and they have been conducted periodically since then, with data collection occurring between 2010-2019 by NOAA FKNMS Staff, PAST Foundation, and undergraduate and graduate students and 2021 site monitoring by Indiana University Center for Underwater Science field students and faculty (PAST Foundation 2012; Rodriguez 2012; Lawrence 2019; Qualls 2019). These reports aid in understanding feature condition and biological change and will support future investigations should the anchor’s identity become more available (Baelz, 2021). The Spanish Anchor’s accessibility, location on Molasses Reef, and archaeological and biological features set it apart from the 39 anchors in the Upper Keys Region of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (Indiana University 1996).
The Spanish Anchor is typical of seventeenth to eighteenth century anchors. The general form associated with this time period has a classic arrow shape with a long shank, angular arms, and a wooden stock. Although the Spanish Anchor can be classified within a particular temporal context, the nationality can only be elluded to through knowledge of the trade routes that were established during the era of merchantilism and the exploration of the New World.