The USS Narcissus sank near Egmont Key in 1866 during a winter storm.

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - A 19th century shipwreck in the waters off St. Petersburg is slated to become the state's 12th underwater archaeological preserve.

The USS Narcissus sank near Egmont Key in 1866 during a winter storm. The dedication of the preserve in 15 feet of water is expected to boost tourism and dive shops in Pinellas County.

More than two dozen crew members aboard the ship died. The researcher who has led the push for establishing the preserve tells The Tampa Tribune that while the wreck was a disaster, it also has been a rebirth.

Nicole Morris says the wreck has become a "beautiful ecological environment" home to fish, corals and sponges.

Morris hopes the preserve will officially open by the beginning of next year.

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