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Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys
August 2015
Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys
News & Notes


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Our dedicated Board of Directors, members and allies are committed to guaranteeing the future of our economically-precious treasures that are in critical danger here in the Keys. Please join us as a member, renew your membership or volunteer with us.

"Christ of the Deep" Celebrates 50 Years

Bronze Statue is Icon of Pennekamp State Park

This month marks 50 years since the iconic 9-foot, bronze "Christ of the Deep" statue was installed in FKNMS. It is a replica of the Italian original, "Il Christo Degli Abissi" or "Christ of the Abyss." The statue, with arms uplifted in a gesture of invitation, is considered a symbol of peace and understanding among mankind. It has also become the icon of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, America's first underwater preserve, created in 1960. Visitors from around the world come to snorkel, dive or ride glass-bottom boats to view and photograph the iconic statue that rests in less than 25 feet of water about 5 miles off Key Largo at a site called Key Largo Dry Rocks, a box canyon that rises around beautiful coral formations.
Christ of the Deep. Photo credit: Stephen Frink
Created by artist Guido Galletti, the original was placed in the shallow San Fruttuoso Bay near Portofino, Italy, in 1954. Galletti also crafted the mold for a Christ statue that was cast for Egidi Cressi, a well-known diving equipment manufacturer, who donated it to the Underwater Society of America in 1961. "Christ of the Deep" traveled 6,000 miles from Italy to Chicago, where it was placed in storage. Although state dive councils in Illinois, Michigan and the Northeast petitioned for the statue, it was decided the clear waters of Pennekamp Park were to be its final resting place.
In late 1963, the statue was transported to Orlando, where it was placed on display and later exhibited at St. Petersburg and Palm Beach before arriving at Pennekamp Park, where it was originally stored outdoors. Finally, executed with the aid of local dive operators and park officials, a small budget and donations of concrete for the statue's 20-ton base, the statue was lowered beneath the surface and secured to the seabed on Aug. 25, 1965.

Lionfish Resort to Cannibalism

Efforts to tame Florida’s invasive lionfish haven’t worked. Now these venomous fish are eating each other. Cannibalism may seem like nature’s way of coping with Florida’s growing lionfish invasion, but it is unlikely to offer a cure.
Cannibalism does occur in some species of reef fish, but it is rare. DNA evidence has confirmed that lionfish in Caribbean waters are engaging in cannibalism, and researchers are trying to determine if it's because the fish is depleting its existing foods. A study of stomach contents discovered cannibalism in four of 130 lionfish collected in the Bahamas, with similar results from a study of 157 in Mexico. Due to a lack of research, it's unclear if lionfish cannibalism is holding steady or increasing.
Florida's lionfish threat began off the Atlantic coast in the late 1980s, probably when someone released aquarium lionfish into the wild. Ocean currents and hurricanes helped them spread from Florida’s Atlantic coast to the Bahamas, throughout the Caribbean Sea and into the Gulf of Mexico. Lionfish don’t throw marine ecosystems out of balance in their native Indo-Pacific region. But in the Atlantic, research shows the rapid increase in lionfish coincided with a 65-percent native fish decline during a two-year period.
Visually stunning with their maroon and white stripes and long, fanlike fins, lionfish are considered the most destructive exotic species in marine waters off Florida and the Caribbean. They have voracious appetites and consume dozens of organisms in one feeding, altering delicate reef ecosystems. In the northern Gulf of Mexico, lionfish feast regularly on more than 40 varieties of reef fish like wrasses, gobies, and commercially valuable vermilion snapper and flounder. They compete for food with snapper. In addition, lionfish can lay up to 30,000 eggs every four days, and their venomous spines leave them with no known predators in Florida waters.
The threat has prompted efforts to recruit the public to help fight the invasion. REEF Environmental Education Foundation published a lionfish cookbook and teaches divers how to spear lionfish. Florida lifted catch limits and size restrictions for anyone hunting them. The state agency also held its first Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day in the spring and launched the Reef Rangers program, which encourages divers to remove lionfish from reefs at least twice a year. Lionfish haven’t been known to pursue humans, but getting poked by a lionfish spine can cause pain and occasionally nausea or respiratory trouble. 
Despite such efforts, spread of the species hasn't slowed. Lionfish populations are still growing in areas like the Gulf of Mexico and densities in parts of the Atlantic are five times greater than in the Indo-Pacific. It raises concern that lionfish could spread to the world's few unaffected areas, such as the Panama Canal and the Mediterranean.
One thing about lionfish is clear: They provide a lesson about how destructive invasive species can be in Florida.

Spines & Spinys Tourney Nets $5,300 for Sanctuary Friends

342 Invasive Lionfish Removed from Keys Waters!

The annual Spines and Spinys lobster and lionfish tournament hosted by Tilden’s Scuba Center netted $5,300 for Sanctuary Friends Foundation during the two-day event held over Lobster Mini Season. Ninety participants weighed in lobsters and brought in 342 invasive lionfish! 
Tilden’s owner Wendy Hall hands Sanctuary Friends Board President George Neugent a check for $5,300 raised during from the tournament.
The largest lionfish was two pounds, eight ounces and the smallest was .03 ounces. FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute took 133 stomach samples of the invasive fish! Donated lionfish were given to Lazy Days South in Marathon, a local restaurant helping control the lionfish population by serving the tasty invasive fish …because a dead lionfish is a good lionfish!


Free Fishing Photo Contest

Sanctuary Classic is a free fishing and photo contest celebrating recreational fishing in America's national marine sanctuaries and promoting conservation-focused fishing practices. The fourth annual Sanctuary Classic launched June 28 at Islander Resort, a Guy Harvey Outpost in Islamorada. Deadline to submit photos is Labor Day, Sept. 7.
Each week, one photo will be selected by judges at The Sportfishing Conservancy to win a pair of Costa sunglasses valued at $250! At the end of the contest, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation scholarships of $1,000 will be awarded based on eight categories (up to one per Sanctuary): Biggest (looking) Fish, Smallest (looking) Fish, Best Conservation Message, Guy Harvey Spirit, Best Display of Responsible Fishing Values, Most Family Oriented Photo, Most Unique Looking Fish and Largest Fish Compared to Angler. In addition, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation will give away up to six autographed Guy Harvey T-shirts to those submitting a photo of the most lionfish caught during the contest.

Ninety-eight percent of National Marine Sanctuary waters are open to recreational fishing and provide an incredible outdoors experience. NOAA Fisheries and NOAA Sanctuaries support sustainable recreational fishing. The "Classic" caters to a broad spectrum of recreational fishing enthusiasts and provides conservation and ethical angling guidelines for the casual angler.

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In This Issue:
50 Years of "Christ of the Deep"
Lionfish Resort to Cannibalism
Lobster Tourney Donates to SFFFK
Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

Please add your upcoming events to our online Florida Keys Environmental Calendar. This community-wide resource allows any organization or group to set up an account and post environmentally-related events.

FKNMS Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC) Meeting
TODAY! Aug. 18, 9 am-4:05 pm, Hyatt Place, 1996 Overseas Hwy., Marathon
The SAC provides advice regarding management of the FKNMS. All meetings are open to the public and include public comment periods. This month’s topics include socioeconomic monitoring, artificial habitat workshop outcomes, Biscayne National Park's Management Plan and characterizations of marine zones. Download the draft agenda here.

Lionfish Collecting and Handling Workshop
Sept. 9, 
6:30 pm-8:30 pm,
REEF Headquarters, 98300 Overseas Hwy., Key Largo
This fun and practical workshop covers the background of the invasion, lionfish biology, ecological impacts, current research findings, and collecting and handling tools and techniques. Each participant will have the opportunity to get a FKNMS lionfish removal permit, allowing collection of lionfish in the Sanctuary Preservation Areas using hand nets. Registration is required.

Key Largo Lionfish Derby
Sept. 12, Pennekamp State Park, Key Largo
Mandatory Captain's Meeting the night before the derby at 7:30 pm. Teams may begin collecting lionfish at sunrise and all lionfish must be turned into the scoring station by 5 pm. Awards ceremony, raffle and public lionfish tasting at 6 pm. Registration is $120 per team and includes a pair of puncture-resistant gloves and four food tickets. Register online here.

Save the Date: Sanctuary Friends Annual Golf Tournament

Oct. 18, 8 am, Key West Golf Club

Four person teams are $100/person. More information and registration to come.

Membership Update
July/August 2015
Welcome! Thank you for your support!



Susan Horvat

Webster Walker

Please support the companies that support the FKNMS and Sanctuary Friends.
Waste Management
Marathon Garbage Service
Keys Sanitary
Sunbelt Rentals
Cressi International
Marathon Jet Center
Centennial Bank
First State Bank
Little Palm Island Resort
The Weekly Newspapers
Conch Color
Papa's Pilar Rum
Ocean Reef Club
Ocean Reef Community Foundation
Diver's Direct
Marathon Boat Yard
Grader Mike Construction
Marathon Chamber of Commerce
A Deep Blue Dive Center
Paver Dave
Keys Contracting Services
Florida Keys Contractor’s Association
Bee Brothers
Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory
Hard Rock Cafe
Hyatt Key West Resort & Spa
SHOR Restaurant
Westin's Bistro 245
Key West Express
FURY Water Adventures
Dunkin' Donuts
JSA Promotions

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Our Mission
Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys supports the Florida Keys and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) in the preservation, restoration, and sustainable use of our coral reef ecosystem, from the uplands to the deep sea. We focus on development of community support and advancement of public awareness, education, outreach and scientific research.

Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys is a non-profit, 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization
(Tax ID# 59-2443959).
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Located at the at the historic Crane House at Crane Point Museum and Hammock
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PO Box 504301
Marathon, Florida 33050
Tel: (305)
289-2288 Fax: (305) 289-2289

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Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys
PO Box 504301
Marathon, FL 33050

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