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Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys
December 2013
Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys
News & Notes


Happy Holidays from Friends!
Happy Holidays!
We''d like to take this time to thank all our readers and members for your support all year long. We wish you peace and success in the new year. Renew or become a member today at $50+ and receive the book "Tropical Connections: South Florida''s Marine Environment." (Offer expires January 31, 2014.)

Implementing "Got Your Bags?" in YOUR Community

“Got Your Bags?” Florida Keys is a coalition of residents, businesses, organizations, and local government dedicated to the reduction and voluntary elimination of single-use plastic bags. Initial efforts were focused on Big Pine Key, with the hope that other communities in the Florida Keys would eventually follow suit.
Organizers have learned a lot since implementing the program in the summer of 2012 and hope that others may be motivated to begin something similar in their local Keys community or in other parts of the country. To allow new communities to get up to speed faster than they did and without having to reinventing the wheel, "Got Your Bags?" program materials are available for download. The hope is that other Florida Keys communities will utilize the “branded” name “Got Your Bags?" Florida Keys (which actually connects to a larger national community) and logo. For communities outside the Keys, the materials can serve as a starting point to create a program identity that matches your location. Download the Got Your Bags? Florida Keys Kit.
Got Your Bags?
It is well documented how damaging plastic bags are to wildlife. Not only do we live in a refuge for many protected species, we all benefit from an economy that relies on the FKNMS surrounding our island community. It is a unique and fragile environment that deserves the little additional effort that it takes to sustain its viability. Many individuals and organizations are aware of this problem and have started using and promoting reusable shopping bags to reduce the litter created by single use plastic bags, but the problem seems to persist. This local campaign is adapted from a successful model used in California and Maine to unite the personal efforts of residents and local business people to work together in an effort to overcome obstacles.
It takes every individual in a strong, united community to be effective. Your part is easy. If you are a retailer, don''t dispense plastic bags; if you are a resident, don''t use them! Once you make the transition, it will take no extra time from your busy day and the results will be a cleaner and safer environment and a more sustainable lifestyle. We hope the "Got Your Bags?" campaign will eventually serve as a model for all the island communities in the Florida Keys and the entire state of Florida. Thank you for doing your part!

Great White Herons Studied in the Backcountry

By the early 1900s, snowy egrets, great white herons and other wading birds had been hunted nearly to extinction on their breeding grounds in south Florida. Great white herons may have even been reduced to only one hundred nesting pairs. Used to decorate fashionable ladies hats, the attractive breeding plumes of these and other wading birds garnered high prices when sold to hat-makers.
Photo: Andy Collins for FKNMS
In 1901, Florida passed legislation protecting non-game birds, and in 1908, the Key West National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was established, and in 1938, the Great White Heron NWR was created in the Lower Keys. The refuges are havens for more than 250 bird species, including great white herons. Together they preserve approximately 400,000 acres of “backcountry” shallow waters, seagrass flats and low-lying mangrove islands.
In the early 1940s, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported that great white heron populations were recovering, a trend that continued until the mid-1990s when their numbers began to decline for unknown reasons. Recent population assessments confirm a steady decline for an extended period of time. Specifically, decreases have been observed in the subpopulation that resides in Florida Bay.
To better understand what may be impacting these birds, biologists from the Avian Research and Conservation Institute received funding to document heron foraging and nesting patterns. The study took place in the Great White Heron NWR and western Florida Bay from 2007 through 2010.
The study found that backcountry seagrass flats and mangrove islands are critical for the survival of great white herons. Birds forage on large, intact grassbeds during a limited part of the tidal cycle and nest on nearby mangrove islands. Vessel exclusion areas, no-motor, no-entry and buffer zones help preserve the quality of these critical habitats by keeping people, boats and noise away from feeding, resting and nesting birds. Similar to other birds, great white herons often fly when approached too closely or startled by loud noise. Restrictions that apply to people and vessels are in place to prevent such disturbances in the refuges, thereby protecting the vulnerable population of herons and other wildlife that reside there.
To learn more about the study and its finding, download the Science Summary titled: “Great White Herons in the Back Country" (pdf 351 kb).

Friends in Focus Movies Are Back!

Friends in Focus movie nights are back! Starting Dec. 17, Sanctuary Friends will once again host a series of FREE movies on a variety of environmental, educational or ocean-related topics. Mark your calendar for the first and third Tuesdays of the month until May 6 at the Sail & Power Squadron Education Building, 12 Loggerhead Lane (off 52nd Street Gulf) in Marathon. Doors open at 6:30 and the movie starts at 7 p.m. Popcorn is free and drinks are available for a donation.
The Private Life of Deer
The schedule for December and January is as follows:
Dec. 17: "The Private Life of Deer"
White-tailed deer seem to be always around us, whether grazing alongside our roadways, feasting on plants in our backyards or darting into the woods. While other species may be negatively impacted by human development, it’s just the opposite for the whitetails. The Private Life of Deer looks at how these wild deer interact with one another, and how they adapt to living in a suburban environment. Watch the preview here.
Jan 7: "When Dolphins Cry"
Hardy Jones takes us back into the deep blue sea as spectators to one of the most amazing shows on earth! Watch as Japan’s dolphins jump, spin and play like ocean ballerinas. But life is not all fun for these beautiful mammals. They are under constant threat from traditional Japanese fishermen who have been hunting dolphins for generations. Will Hardy and his team be able to intervene to stop this practice? Watch the preview here.
Jan 21: "Do The Math"
This documentary film is about the rising movement to change the terrifying math of the climate crisis and challenge the fossil fuel industry. The movies follows Bill McKibben and his friends at as they tours across the United States. Watch the trailer.


Looking for a Great Dive Vacation?

REEF Field Surveys are a great way to take a dive vacation that counts! These projects are led by REEF staff and other REEF instructors and feature daily classroom seminars and a full diving schedule. They are a great introduction to fish identification for novice fishwatchers and a fun way for experienced surveyors to build their life list while interacting with fellow fishwatchers. The 2014 trip schedule includes many sites in the Caribbean and Pacific Northwest, as well as several Lionfish Research Expeditions. Want to join the fun? Reserve your spot today because trips fill up fast! Visit the REEF Trips page to see the complete schedule.

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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In This Issue:
Implementing "Got Your Bags?"
Great White Heron Study
Friends in Focus Movies Start!
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! Dec. 10, 9 am-4:30 pm, Islander Resort, MM82.1, Islamorada
The Council provides advice regarding management of the FKNMS. All meetings are open to the public and include morning and afternoon public comment periods. This month’s agenda includes Marine Zoning and Regulatory Review and Everglades Restoration. Download the draft agenda.

REEF Holiday Party & Open House
TONIGHT! Dec. 10, 6-9 pm, REEF Headquarters, MM98.3, Key Largo
Celebrate the holidays with REEF and Sanctuary Friends at our annual holiday open house social. Paul Humann, REEF co-founder, author and renowned underwater photographer, will meet guests and sign books. Silent auction, raffle giveaways, complimentary hors d’oeuvres and drinks and REEF merchandise available. Stop by for some holiday shopping and socializing.

Friends in Focus Movie Nights
First & third Tuesdays of the month, 7 pm, Sail & Power Squadron Education Building, 12 Loggerhead Lane, Marathon. 
Dec. 17: The Private Life of Deer; Jan. 7: When Dolphins Cry. Part of a monthly film series sponsored by Sanctuary Friends and the Marathon Sail & Power Squadron. Social begins at 6:30 pm.

Membership Update
November 2013
Welcome! Thank you for your support!

New & Returning Members ($30-$199)

Lynne and Dave Brooks

Peter Frezza

Robert Eichholtz

Sybil Veeder



Richard Worthington

Bruce Ferrer

Mr. & Mrs. Russel W. Fisher

Mildred Ryan

George & Suzie Neugent

Joe & Patricia Ivey

John & Arlene Mirabella

John Albert

Please support the companies that support the FKNMS and Sanctuary Friends.
Waste Management
Marathon Garbage Service
Keys Sanitary
Sunbelt Rentals
Little Palm Island Resort
Cressi International
Centennial Bank
The Weekly Newspapers
Hawks Cay Resort
Marathon Jet Center
Keys Acoustics Insulation
Tranquility Bay Resort
Meacham Electric
Marathon Boat Yard
Grader Mike Construction
First State Bank
Stephen Frink Photography
Marathon Chamber of Commerce
A Deep Blue Dive Center
Christina’s Boutique
Paver Dave
Keys Contracting Services
Florida Keys Contractor’s Association
CSA Coral Restoration
Bee Brothers

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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 Museum and Hammock
5550 Overseas Hwy.
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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