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Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys
March 2017
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 Florida Keys. Please join us as a member, renew your membership or volunteer with us this year.

New Trap Designs to Corral Lionfish in Deep Water
by Oren Lieber-Kotz, intern at NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

How do you control a harmful invasive species before it damages reef ecosystems? NOAA and its partners have developed and released designs for new lionfish traps that could provide the first realistic means of controlling invasive deep-water lionfish populations and support the development of a lionfish fishery.
Fish traps are currently prohibited in Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic federal waters and other areas without appropriate permits. The two new trap designs, if approved, could give fishermen a better way to capture lionfish in deep water. “This is a double win as it helps protect ecologically, recreationally or commercially important native species while promoting a potential fishery,” says principle designer Steve Gittings, Ph.D., chief scientist for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
An invasive lionfish in front of a curtain-style trap off Pensacola, Florida. Photo: Steve Gittings/NOAA
In an effort to control lionfish populations, Gittings has been working with the nonprofit organizations Coast Watch Alliance and Lionfish University and the University of Georgia to develop and test various designs for lionfish traps and produce a construction guide. The goal was to come up with a design that minimizes bycatch, meaning it only catches lionfish, and to avoid “ghost fishing,” when lost traps continue to harm or catch fish. They also are constructed for easy deployment and retrieval, and for easy transport on fishing boats.
The basic concept behind the new traps is that lionfish tend to congregate around structures on the ocean floor. Instead of bait, structures in the center of the traps called fish aggregation devices (FAD) lure the fish in. The first prototype trap used net curtains that closed around a cube-shaped PVC frame, trapping the fish inside; the frame of the second-generation trap, called a dome trap, lies flat on the seafloor and closes over the FAD.
Both designs only capture the fish present around the FAD at the time of retrieval. If lost, the trap will simply lie open, and thus avoid ghost fishing. Because other fish species don’t tend to remain as close to home structures as lionfish, these kinds of traps catch virtually nothing but invasive lionfish.
During testing off Pensacola, the traps were placed 30 to 130 feet away from existing artificial reefs in about 110 feet of water. Lionfish typically venture away from the reefs to hunt and feed. When they do, they encounter the traps. After two days underwater, the trap designs attracted 35 percent of lionfish from the nearby reefs. Within 18 days, nearly 80 percent of those fish were within the frame of the traps and could be captured. Those findings were encouraging, and point to traps as a promising solution to at least part of the invasive lionfish problem.
Trap designs are now ready for the fishing community in the United States and Caribbean to build and test, particularly for use in waters beyond scuba depths. Potential users must consult with federal and local authorities to obtain the necessary authorizations before testing the devices. Download the lionfish trap construction guide.

The Grouper Moon Project: Protecting an Endangered Icon
By Christy Pattengill-Semmens, Ph.D., REEF Director of Science 

REEF scientists and volunteers spent time in the Cayman Islands last month for another season of the Grouper Moon Project, a collaborative research effort with the Cayman Islands Department of Environment (CIDOE). In its 16th year, this project focuses on one of the largest (and one of just a few) known spawning aggregations of Nassau Grouper, an endangered Caribbean reef fish. More than 4,000 grouper amass in one location for 7 to 10 days following the full moon.
Over 4,000 Nassau Grouper amass at a spawning aggregation during winter full moons off Little Cayman Island. Photo by Paul Humann.
REEF, CIDOE, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Oregon State University have used a variety of research techniques -- from diver surveys to state-of-the-art technology -- to study this natural phenomenon. The research has yielded ground-breaking results that have led to improved conservation for Nassau Grouper in the Cayman Islands. In 2016, the Cayman Islands government enacted a comprehensive set of regulations aimed at recovering Nassau Grouper. The new rules are based on more than a decade of collaborative fisheries research carried out by the Grouper Moon Project.
In 2011, with funding from the Disney Conservation Fund, REEF launched an education program to engage students in the Grouper Moon Project, bringing the Nassau Grouper into elementary and high school classrooms through lesson plans and live-feed videos that connect classrooms with scientists in the field. To learn more, you can view this year’s live-feed webcasts on the REEF Grouper Moon Project YouTube channel or watch the PBS documentary.

"Outdoor Fest" Going on Now Through Saturday

The Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges and its friends group, FAVOR, is hosting the second annual “Outdoor Fest,” going on now through Saturday, culminating with a family-friendly Wildlife and Outdoor Fair. Enjoy guided birding and nature walks, a historical bike ride, art and photography workshops, kids programs, a behind the scenes kayak excursion, and so much more to let you see the refuges up close and personal!

Outdoor Fest 2017
Activities today through Saturday are focused the refuges of the Lower Keys centered on Big Pine Key, and spaces are still available for some events. Almost everything is free, but space is limited. See the schedule and register here.

Saturday’s events at the Big Pine Community Park begin with the third annual Run with Deer 5K run/walk starting at 8 a.m. The official Saturday Wildlife and Outdoor Fair runs from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. with food vendors, music, nature artists and more.

The Florida Keys NWR manages the National Key Deer Refuge, Great White Heron and Key West NWRs (the “Backcountry”) and Crocodile Lake NWR. This is a great opportunity to engage kids, families, community members and visitors alike; to get them excited about protecting and appreciating our natural resources, getting outdoors and exploring nature, and promoting environmental stewardship.


"Fishinar" Archives Available

By now we hope you’ve heard of fishinars – short, free, webinars especially for divers, snorkelers and even landlubbers … anyone wanting to know more about ocean life is welcome to join in! You can learn the finer points of identifying fish and invertebrates or a variety of other ocean topics by guest speakers.
But did you know that many of the 120 fishinars that have been presented by REEF Environmental Education Foundation over the past six years are also available for later viewing as a benefit of REEF membership? Membership is free, so joing today! The typical fishinar lasts about an hour. Check out the archives and you might find something want to know more about!

In This Issue:
New Lionfish Trap Designs
Grouper Moon Project Updates
Outdoor Fest on Saturday
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.

Fishinar: Fishes of the Solomon Islands
March 20, 8-9 pm
On the other side of the world, you’ll find a whole ocean-full of colorful fish! REEF Science Director Christy Semmens will teach identification of a few of them. All fishinars are free, but (free) membership is required. Webinar ID: 927-685-539. Register here.

Raise the Roof 5th Annual Gala
April 1, 6:30 pm, Ocean Reef Club, 35 Ocean Reef Dr., Key Largo
Enjoy a sustainably sourced dinner, along with cocktails, music, and silent and live auctions to benefit the Coral Restoration Foundation. Internationally renowned marine photographer, award-winning filmmaker, and dedicated environmentalist, Bob Talbot, will be special guest and keynote speaker highlighting conservation initiatives. Purchase tickets here.

February / March 2017
Welcome! Thank you for your support!
New & Returning Members
Nancy Gold
John Jarnagin
Chenille Rivera
Shirley Shumway
Russell & Christina Fisher

Please support the companies that support the FKNMS and Sanctuary Friends.
Waste Management
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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
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Keys Contracting Services
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Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory
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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.

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Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys
Located at the at the historic Crane House at Crane Point Hammock
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Marathon, Florida 33050
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289-2288 Fax: (305) 289-2289

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PO Box 504301
Marathon, FL 33050

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