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Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys
July 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.

Lionfish Reward Programs

Two new reward programs were approved by FWC in April, and the competition officially started on May 14. These programs are designed to increase public awareness about the lionfish invasion, increase diver participation in removal efforts, and help reduce the number of lionfish in our waters.
Lionfish Check-In Stations
The statewide “Lionfish Challenge” program runs through Sept. 30. To qualify, participants must remove 50 or more lionfish. Under the program, participants can document their catch by submitting photographs electronically to FWC or by dropping off labeled bags of lionfish tails at one of the identified drop off locations.
Persons who reach 50 lionfish will receive a commemorative lionfish coin to mark their membership and a Lionfish Challenge t-shirt; be featured in the lionfish hall of fame on the FWC website; and be entered in drawings to win prizes including fishing licenses, diving equipment, fuel cards and tank fill cards. Those who qualify prior to the 2016 lobster mini-season (July 27–28, 2016) will also be eligible to take one additional lobster per day during the two-day season. For each additional 50 lionfish that are harvested, participants will receive one additional entry into the raffle.
The person who “checks in” the most lionfish between May 14 and Sept. 30 will be crowned Florida’s Lionfish King or Queen and will receive a lifetime saltwater fishing license and have his or her photograph on the cover of the January 2017 Florida Saltwater Regulations magazine. The King or Queen will also be recognized at the November 2016 Commission Meeting.
A second program referred to as the “Panhandle Pilot Program” will focus on removal efforts in the Florida panhandle region from Escambia County to Franklin County.

New Reef Planted Off Fort Zach
Coral Restoration and Snorkel Park Project Begins

Scientists and volunteers recently planted 200 live coral fragments in the waters off Key West’s Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, launching an effort to restore depleted reef tracts and establish a public snorkel park that’s easily accessible. The coral fragments, which had been rescued and propagated at Mote Tropical Research Laboratory on Summerland Key, were “outplanted” in 10 to 15 feet of water about 20 feet beyond a breakwater off "Fort Zach." 
Dr. Dave Vaughan of Mote Marine Laboratory plants infant corals on the sea floor off Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo by Bob Care, Florida Keys News Bureau)
Scientists are using a revolutionary coral-growing technique called “re-skinning” that enables fragments of brain, star and boulder corals to fuse together quickly to form new coral heads. And that radically reduces the time required for reef restoration.
“We start the corals at a very small size, but that stimulates them to grow to about the size of a golf ball in just three or four months,” said Dr. Dave Vaughan, Manager of Mote’s Coral Reef Restoration program. In just one or two years, an array of five of the golf-ball-sized corals will form a coral head about the size of a dinner plate or Frisbee – what would have taken 15 to 25 or more years in the wild!
“We’re putting this together so that we can outreach hundreds of people that can just walk in from the beach and have a beautiful snorkel trail, and learn what the need is for coral reefs in this world,” said Vaughan.
The project is being spearheaded Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in cooperation with FKNMS, the Monroe County Tourist Development Council (TDC) and Florida State Parks. Organizers are looking for recreational snorkelers and “voluntourists” to help with upcoming planting sessions this month. Mote scientists hope they can plant as many as 5,500 corals by the end of July. To get involved, email

Join in the Great Annual Fish Count

The Great Annual Fish Count (GAFC) is a fun way to learn about local oceans. Every July, divers and snorkelers across the world join to learn about marine diversity and conduct fish surveys as a part of the ongoing REEF Volunteer Fish Survey Project. The GAFC is only a catalyst to introduce divers/snorkelers and the general public to volunteer fish monitoring. Data is needed year-round, not just during the month of July.
The Great Annual Fish Count
Join in the fun:
  • As an individual, joining an already established event near you.
  •  As a group, organizing your own event.
  • Team-teach a fish ID class. It's more fun with a friend!
  • Turn your event into a potluck party or BBQ.
  • Try holding a raffle or auction, donating the proceeds to REEF or another marine conservation organization.
Whatever activity you choose, survey and training materials are available to guide you. Once survey information is submitted online, the data is processed via standardized data management and quality control protocols and then uploaded into a centralized database. In addition to use by the general and diving public, data is available to scientists and resource managers everywhere.


Host a Lionfish Derby

Help fight the lionfish invasion by hosting a REEF Sanctioned Lionfish Derby. Lionfish derbies have been found to be effective tools in reducing lionfish populations in derby areas. Sanctioned Derbies alone have removed more than 12,600 lionfish! REEF has been organizing and conducting derbies since its first one in the Bahamas in 2009. The program aims to help others organize and conduct safe and effective derbies by providing tools, templates and promotion for derby organizers. Derbies that meet certain criteria around the region will be recognized and promoted by REEF. Download the information packet.

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In This Issue:
Lionfish Reward Programs
New Reef off Ft. Zach
The Great Annual Fish Count
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.

Risks and Hazards of Lobster Diving
July 20, 22, 25 & 26, various times and locations throughout the Keys
The Florida lobster mini-season is the largest two-day recreational diving event in the world, and it sees an average of two fatalities each year. Many more divers end up in the ER or suffer non-life-threatening injuries. Divers Alert Network (DAN) has collected hundreds of non-fatal incident reports from real divers and compared hundreds of diving fatalities between hunters and non-hunters to determine root causes. Join Dr. Peter Buzzacott to learn more about the hazards and how to prepare for the upcoming Mini-Season. Find a date and location near you.

Spiny Lobster Sport Season ("Mini-Season")
July 27, 12:01 a.m. to July 28, 12:00 a.m. (midnight)
The two day spiny lobster sport season is always the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July. Possession limits are enforced on and off the water. A reminder that possession and use of a measuring device is required at all times, and night diving is prohibited in Monroe County (only during the sport season). A valid Florida recreational saltwater fishing license and a lobster permit are required to harvest spiny lobster. Find out more.

June / July 2016
Welcome! Thank you for your support!
New & Returning Members ($30-$199)
Nancy Gold

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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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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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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