Click to view this email in a browser

Sanctuary Friends Foundation

In this Issue:

News & Notes
July 2009

Sanctuary Friends Foundation

  Our Amazing Ocean

August Full Moon Triggers Coral Spawning

Each summer, coral reefs explode in an orgy of reproduction. At least 10 species of invertebrates, including corals, worms, sea stars and sponges, participate in this reproductive period that culminates the week following the full moon. Exact cues triggering the annual phenomenon remain unclear, but are believed to be linked to water temperatures and lunar, tidal and 24-hour light cycles.
Coral Spawning

Most invertebrates spawn together on a single night in what are known as mass spawning events. This broadcast spawning enables the immobile animals to send their eggs and sperm into the water in massive quantities. Such a copious delivery system is believed to maximize the chances of fertilization and at the same time overwhelm predators with more food than they can consume.
A night dive or snorkel is the best way to view this rare exchange of reproductive cells, fascinating for the sheer volume of white excretion that seemingly fills the ocean waters around our living coral reef. Though an exact date of the polyp release cannot be guaranteed, the 2009 full moons fall on Thursday, Aug. 6, and Friday, Sept. 4. To participate in coral spawning night dives in the Florida Keys, contact any of the Keys’ professional dive operators.

Hot Issues

Lobster Mini-Season Can be Dangerous:
Safe Diving Review

FLorida Spiny LobsterThe two-day Spiny Lobster Sport Season, held this year on July 29-30, is one of the most popular summer boating and diving events in the Florida Keys. Unfortunately, in recent years, it has become one of the most dangerous for divers. Between 2005 and 2008, 14 fatalities were recorded during the lobster mini-season in Florida; of those, four occurred just last year. While the exact causes of death are being determined for some, diver error is clearly responsible for others.

"This is a great time of year to be in the Keys, and it's fantastic the number of divers who turn out for this event," said Dan Orr, president and CEO of Divers Alert Network (DAN). "Unfortunately, in some cases the excitement of the hunt takes precedence over safe diving practices, so we're trying to remind every diver of the need to be current in their skills and knowledge about dive safety."

Safe Diving Tips from the Florida Keys Safe Diving Initiative:
A - Air     Monitor air supply; always surface with at least 500 PSI
L - Lead Weights     In an emergency, use your head, lose the lead
I - Inspection     Inspect your gear before every dive trip
V - Verification     Verify dive plan, signals and lost buddy procedures with your buddy
E - Escape     Stop, Think, Breathe and Act

Watch the 2009 Florida Lobster Mini-Season Public Service Announcement from DAN.

In Monroe County (The Florida Keys), the Sport Season regulations are different from the rest of the state. Bag limits are six per person per day for Monroe County and Biscayne National Park, and 12 per person per day for the rest of Florida. Monroe county also has many areas that are closed to lobstering. Get the details, from FKNMS's brochure, "Regulations for Recreational Harvest and Lobster Information."

 Programs & Projects

Recovery Act Funds
Restoration of Threatened Corals

Threatened Acropora Corals in Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands will receive $3.3 million from NOAA as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The Act was signed into law by President Obama on February 17 and NOAA received $167 million for marine coastal habitat restoration. On June 30, NOAA announced the 50 high quality, high priority projects, chosen from a pool of 814 proposals, that would receive funding.

Of the 50 projects selected, five are coral-relevant, totaling approximately $15 million. "To conduct restoration of coral on this scale is unprecedented," said James Byrne, The Nature Conservancy's marine science program manager for Florida and the Caribbean.

Replanted Staghorn ColonyMuch of the Threatened Coral Recovery and Restoration project will take place right here in our own FKNMS. The project will expand four existing coral nurseries and establish four new nurseries in waters off the coast of south Florida and the USVI. Over the next three years, the project will grow roughly 12,000 corals in Florida and transfer them to 34 degraded reefs from the Dry Tortugas through Broward County, tripling their natural recovery rate. Nursery and restoration efforts are expected to extend beyond the three-year grant period.

Staghorn and elkhorn corals (two well-known species of Acropora coral) were once abundant and productive marine habitat builders in Florida and the Caribbean. But they suffered severe population declines due to coral bleaching, diseases, hurricane damage and other threats and were designated as threatened species in 2006. With the ability to produce numerous branches that can each grow four or more inches a year, these corals are well suited to nursery propagation and restoration efforts.

The Nature Conservancy will serve as coordinator of the overall project, but a range of project partners, including the Coral Restoration Foundation, University of Miami, Nova Southeastern University, Mote Marine Laboratory, FWC and Nautical Farms, will conduct most of the hands-on work.

Coral Reef Protection Act in Effect

Thanks to many of your calls and letters, House Bill 1423 passed during the recent legislative session. The new Florida state law, called the Coral Reef Protection Act (CRPA), went into effect July 1. CRPA will increase protection of Florida's endangered coral reefs by helping raise awareness of damages associated with vessel groundings and anchoring on coral reefs off the coasts of Broward, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach counties. The law also authorizes penalties for the destruction of reef resources and provides for efficient repair and mitigation of reef injuries. More information about protecting Florida's coral reefs.

Download a CRPA Fact Sheet and Q&A.

 Lionfish Hotline
Invasive Lionfish HotlineSince the first sighting in January 2009, reports of lionfish in the Florida Keys have been increasing in frequency. As of early July, eight of the invasive fish had been captured in sanctuary waters, the last being the largest, measuring approximately nine inches. Lionfish have no known predators in the Atlantic and pose a serious threat to native fish populations and the balance of the coral reef ecosystem. The Sanctuary is continuing its public outreach and asking for divers and snorkelers to be vigilant and report all lionfish sightings to the reporting hotlines: 305-852-0030 or 305-395-8730.
Go Hunting at the EDC
The Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center is now an official geocache and letterbox site! Finding the cache is easy – click here to view clues. The goal is to get people to visit the Eco-Discovery center, not spend a lot of time looking. A GPS unit helps but is not necessary. If you do find the cache, be sure to sign the logbook, seal it back up and return it to the same spot. Happy hunting!
Science Summaries Available Online
These two-page handouts are designed to communicate research results to stakeholders, volunteers, students and others interested in scientific research in the FKNMS. Current topics available for download include Water Quality, Phytoplankton Blooms and Coral Reef Ecosystem Monitoring.
FKNMS Work Highlighted by NOAA Administrator
New NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco's first message highlighting outstanding science and scientists highlighted the innovative research taking place at our own FKNMS

"The compelling work in the Florida Keys is yet another excellent example of how sound science and responsible stewardship can come together on behalf of our oceans and those who depend on them," Lubchenco stated in her message.

Join our Facebook group! Join our Facebook group!

Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys is a non-profit, 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization (Tax ID# 59-2443959)

We take your privacy seriously. Your email address will never be sold, rented or given away. All our emails include an easy opt-out feature.

If you have activated spam filters in your email application, please add the following email to your address book:

Take a break from the
summer heat!

Become a Sanctuary Friend
and support our coral reef
and marine ecosystems.

 From the Board


The spiny lobster season is upon us. It begins with the "Mini-Season," which is anything but miniature. Depending on your perspective, it is an economic godsend, an environmental disaster, an opportunity to party or a first chance to hunt lobsters before the commercial season begins. Corals also spawn soon, and there are new developments in our efforts toward restoration of our coral reefs.

Yin and Yang are ancient Chinese concepts of humanity's relationship with the forces of nature. They describe how apparently unconnected and opposing forces in the natural world are interdependent and give rise to each other in turn, one driving the other. Our Yang of exploitation must be balanced by the Yin of care and moderation if our coral reefs are to survive. And the end of summer is the time in the Keys when we must work the hardest to balance the forces of Yin and Yang upon our environment.

When will you join us and get involved? We look forward to that. Send us your ideas, subscribe to our e-newsletter or forward this message to a friend.

Best Wishes,
Martin Moe

 Upcoming Events
Coming This Fall
"Eco-Discovery Tours:
Discover the Florida Keys through eco-friendly and historical excursions."
Thousands of islands ... thousands of stories

The Eco-Discovery Center and Sanctuary Friends team up to take visitors on journeys that will teach them about the history and natural wonders of the 1,700 islands that are called the Florida Keys.

Learn underwater photography from an instructor who knows the secrets of the reef, experience the rich history of writers that have called Key West their home, discover nature's beauty as you kayak under the moon through canopied mangrove islands or share a gourmet dinner with local chefs who are dedicated to using organic, local and Floridian delights.

For more information, call 305-289-2288 or e-mail to request a brochure.

Safe Boating Course
Aug. 1, 8:30 am – 12:30 pm, History of Diving Museum, Islamorada
Courses are offered the first Saturday of every month. Please visit the website to register for this or other Museum events.

Coral Spawning Restoration Dives
Aug. 11-13, Amoray Dive Resort, Key Largo
Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) workshops. Dates are tentative and will depend on Mother Nature and the beginning of the annual Coral Spawning. CRF hopes to incorporate two restoration dives during the spawn with an anticipated night dive.

Socioeconomic Study of Climate Change
in the Keys, 6-8 pm

Aug. 11, Key Colony Beach City Hall
Aug. 12, Eco-Discovery Center
Aug. 14, Key Largo Library
Aug. 17, Florida Keys History of Diving Museum
Aug. 20, Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce.
Workshops detailing economist Hans Hoegh-Guldberg’s two-year study for NOAA of climate change and its possible impacts on the Keys. The meetings will include a PowerPoint presentation of the main findings and conclude with a series of questions to inspire discussion. Everyone is welcome.

Discovery Saturday - Life at the Reef
Aug. 15, 9:30 – 11:30 am, Eco-Discovery Center
Programs held the third Saturday of every month for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Kids can have fun while learning about the environmental and cultural resources of the Florida Keys. Activities will include constructing models of coral polyps and learning about coral communities and the reef fish that call them home. Attendance is free, and preregistration is recommended. Call 809-4750 to register.
Future dates and topics

EcoWeek 2010
Coming! Nov. 1-14, 2010
A Keys-wide event to educate and celebrate environmental preservation. Special activities in the Upper, Middle and Lower Keys. Inagural event in 2010 to celebrate healthy living, a healthy planet and peaceable and sustainable communities.

EcoWeek 2010

celebrating the event...
                 honoring the earth and sea


We invite you to hold your special celebrations, business meetings and other occasions in a meaningful way at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center. Our staff will help you celebrate in a green way, and your donations will help to give back to the “Sanctuary.” Call today to reserve your date and share your celebration with the earth and sea!

Call 847-612-4712 or email

 We want your input! If you have stories of note or just want to comment on our newsletter, please email:
We're developing a Central Environmental Calendar for the Keys. If you have an upcoming event with an environmental focus or that relates to our fabulous Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, please email:

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

If you no longer wish to receive these emails, please reply to this message with "Unsubscribe" in the subject line or simply click on the following link: Unsubscribe

Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys
11450 Overseas Highway
Suite 102
Marathon, Florida 33050

Read the VerticalResponse marketing policy.

Non-Profits Email Free with VerticalResponse!