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Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys
February 2016
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 in the new year.

Regal Damselfish: New Non-Native Species in Gulf of Mexico

A recent study documents that a new non-native fish species, the Regal Demoiselle (Neopomacentrus cyanamos), could become established and spread in the western Atlantic. The fish has been documented in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico and the Yucatan region of Mexico. The quantities found in the Gulf of Mexico suggest that the fish has already established a self-sustaining population in this new ecosystem.
The Regal Demoiselle, a new non-native species in the Gulf of Mexico. This picture was taken in its native range of the Indo-Pacific. The invasive individuals are more drab. Photo by Paul Humann.
The study incorporated a computer model to evaluate the non-native species’ potential to impact native populations. The model incorporated oceanic water flow in the region, tolerances of the fish to the ocean environment, and its reproductive strategy in order to supply a temporal and spatial forecast of its spread. From this study, targeted early detection and removal of the fish can be directed if the fish is deemed a threat to native fauna.
On the basis of the study, it is foreseeable that the reefs presently harboring Regal Damselfish, as the fish is commonly known, will likely see increased abundance of this fish. Immediate attempts to eliminate it, therefore, should be focused in nearshore shallow waters spanning Veracruz to Frontera, Mexico. Since water flows in the southern Gulf of Mexico are not widely conducive to long-distance transport of marine organisms with pelagic larvae, it is unlikely that it will permeate the greater Gulf of Mexico in the next five years.
Regal Damselfish is native to the Indo-Pacific and Red Sea. Similar in appearance to the native Brown Chromis, it is distinguishable by a yellow or white spot at the rear base of the dorsal fin, a dark spot behind the gill and yellow rear margins of the fins and tail. In contrast, the native Brown Chromis is identified by dark margins on the tail and a dark spot at the base of the pectoral fin.
The study was posted last month in the journal Marine Biology and was co-authored by Lad Akins, REEF Director of Special Projects.

Importance of Mangrove and Seagrass Habitats

Mangrove trees and seagrass play an important role in our fragile ecosystems in the FKNMS. Mangroves and seagrass both filter pollutants, absorb excess nutrients from runoff and trap sediments, helping to increase the clarity and quality of waters.
Mangroves in the Keys
Both mangroves and seagrass also play an important role in preventing erosion of the sea bottom. The roots of mangroves help absorb the action from waves and help prevent shoreline erosion. When these trees and shrubs are removed, additional support structures such as seawalls are needed. Seagrass stabilizes sediments on the seafloor. Without seagrass, these areas would be a seascape of shifting sand and mud.
Almost all fish and shellfish caught by commercial and recreational anglers spend some part of their life cycles in or near mangroves. Many animals such as Key deer and great white herons call the mangrove habitat home. Seagrass communities, in turn, are home to a wide range of critters such as pink shrimp, lobster, red fish and stone crab during some part of their life cycles. By providing food and shelter to a range of fish, seagrass beds supported an estimated $13.9 million in stone crab, spiny lobster, shrimp, yellowtail snapper, gray snapper and blue crab harvests for Monroe County in 2010.

New Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC) Members Appointed

New SAC Appointee Kasey FeyTwo new members were appointed to the FKNMS Sanctuary Advisory Council during the December meeting. Additionally, two appointments were modified and seven existing council members were renewed. Council members play an important role by representing the community’s perspective on management issues and providing local expertise and advice.
The new appointees are Kasey Fey (Education and Outreach Alternate) and Lisa Mongelia (Tourism, Upper Keys Alternate). Within the Fishing Commercial Shell/Scale category, Justin Bruland’s appointment was revised to the primary seat, while Jeff Cramer became the alternate. The following members were reappointed to the same seat for another term: Chris Bergh (Conservation and Environment), Martin Moe (Education and Outreach), George Neugent (Elected County Official), Heather Carruthers (Elected County Official Alternate), Corey Malcom (Submerged Cultural Resources), Diane Silvia (Submerged Cultural Resources Alternate), and Andy Newman (Tourism Upper Keys).


Teacher at Sea Opportunity

Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries and Point Blue are recruiting for one teacher to join the science team and learn about how marine ecologists are monitoring distribution and abundance of marine wildlife as it relates to oceanographic conditions. The teacher will stay with the team onboard the research vessel R/V Bell M. Shimada. The cruise will be hosted out of San Francisco from May 13-22, 2016 (subject to change slightly). Travel and food stipend is included in this opportunity. Application deadline is March 11.
Teachers at Sea are expected to contribute to the daily working operations, write/share a daily blog with the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program, and produce and share a lesson plan based on the experience and new knowledge. The science project being carried out during this mission is called ACCESS (Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies). More information.

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.

In This Issue:
New Non-Native Fish Documented
 Importance of Mangrove & Seagrass Habitats
New SAC Members Appointed
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.

“The Delicate Balance of Nature” Lecture Series
TODAY! Feb. 17, 7:30-8:30 pm, Pennekamp State Park Visitor Center, MM102.5
This week’s topic is “How Intelligent Outdoor Lighting Can Protect the Environment.” The series runs every Wednesday until March 30. Speakers cover a variety of topics. Park gate opens at 7 p.m. Free admission; seating is limited. More information: 305-451-9570.

REEF Winter Lionfish Derby
March 12, Postcard Inn, 84001 Overseas Highway, Islamorada
REEF's Fourth Annual Event. Late registration at 5:30 pm and mandatory captain’s meeting at 6:30 pm on Friday, March 11. Teams may begin collecting lionfish at sunrise on Derby Day. Islamorada Dive Center will run a derby-specific trip for divers who want to participate but don't have access to a boat. All lionfish must be turned in to the scoring station by 5 pm. Awards ceremony at 6:30 pm following lionfish tastings. Cash prizes for the most, biggest and smallest lionfish. Registration fee is $20/person, 4 person max per team. Register online.

January/February 2016
Welcome! Thank you for your support!
New & Returning Members ($30-$199)
Nancy Gold
Mike Klayman
Shirley Shumway
Ocean Reef Foundation
Charles Woldenberg
Robert Eichholtz, Jr.

Please support the companies that support the FKNMS and Sanctuary Friends.
Waste Management
Marathon Garbage Service
Keys Sanitary
Sunbelt Rentals
Cressi International
Island Home Builders
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
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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PO Box 504301
Marathon, FL 33050

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