Gabriel Spataro was instrumental in placing an Italian statue, cast from the same mold as Genoa's Christ of the Abyss, in the waters off Key Largo.
That was in 1965. Recently Spataro revisited the statue, which is locally referred to as Christ of the Deep.
"Today, when I went diving on it, it hit my soul and I felt really good," said Spataro.
He suffers from macular degeneration but said he could still see the statue - and how different it looks with decades of coral growth.
"There's coral and things growing on the statue. But the basic thing, with those arms reaching out and looking up at the sky, even though all the coral and that is on it, it still has that impression," Spataro said. "It's a personal feeling that you get between yourself and the statue."
Spataro has returned to the statue several times in recent years with Diveheart, a group that helps people with disabilities go scuba diving.
He says he's not sure if he'll return to dive it again. But he'd like to see a small annual festival in Key Largo that would celebrate the statue, and the sport of scuba diving.
Below: Gabriel Spataro tells his story