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

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Renew or become a member today at $50+ and receive the highly sought-after "Tropical Connections: South Florida's Marine Environment" book by William Kruczynshi and Pamela Fletcher!
(Offer expires January 31, 2014.)
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Elkhorn and Staghorn Corals Will Get Recovery Plan

Status updated from Threatened to Endangered

The National Marine Fisheries Service settled a suit in Florida federal court recently that requires them to create a recovery plan for elkhorn and staghorn corals, as required by the Endangered Species Act.
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Staghorn & Elkhorn corals
Under the terms of the settlement, the National Marine Fisheries Service committed to drafting a recovery plan for the coral species by 2014. Elkhorn and staghorn corals were added to the Endangered Species List in 2006. The agency's policy is to come up with a plan for a species within 2 ½ years of a final listing. In addition, the agency agreed to reclassify the corals as endangered, one step up from their current threatened status.
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The Center for Biological Diversity submitted the 2004 petition that led to the elkhorn and staghorn corals gaining protection as threatened species. The corals, which received a priority ranking of 3 on a scale of 1 to 18 (high threat and potential recovery to low risk and chance for recovery), were once the most abundant and important reef building corals in the waters of Florida and the Caribbean. They have diminished by 80 to 98 percent during the past 30 years due to bleaching because of higher water temperatures. Increased ocean acidity levels, caused by carbon dioxide, have also hindered their growth. They face additional threats from pollution, sedimentation, disease, boating and other human contact.
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Recovery plans have had high success rates, according to a 2012 study finding that 90 percent of sampled species have recovered at rates in line with the goals in their respective recovery plans. "A recovery plan and quick action to reduce carbon dioxide pollution are the two missing pieces necessary to save these beautiful corals from extinction," said Jaclyn Lopez, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, which filed the suit in January.
Source: Law360


Protected Sea Turtles in Keys Refuge Waters

Due to low population numbers and threats to survival, loggerhead, green and hawksbill sea turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act. All three species have been observed in the backcountry waters of the Key West National Wildlife Refuge. Refuge beaches have long been known as turtle nesting sites for green and loggerhead turtles, but in recent years, the value of open waters to marine turtles has also been recognized and documented.
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Scientists observe, identify and document sea turtles in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge
In 2007, scientists began systematically documenting marine turtles in open waters of the refuge. Their method was to observe turtles from a tower on a small boat while traveling along random survey lines called transects. During these timed trips, turtles were identified and counted and their GPS positions were recorded. This survey method, which reported the number of turtles per kilometer of transect, allowed scientists to compare the abundance of turtles in one location to another. Some turtles were captured by scientists and brought aboard the boat, where they were identified, weighed, measured, photographed and flipper tagged. Before releasing a turtle, blood was drawn for genetic studies.
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During the three-year study, 550 loggerheads, 1,057 greens and 23 hawksbills were sighted on transects in the refuge and surrounding waters. A total of 353 sea turtles were captured (including 51 recaptures), tagged and released. To read more about the study and it’s findings, please check out the FKNMS Science Summary “Sea Turtles in Refuge Waters.”
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Protections are Important to the survival of marine turtles in the Sanctuary. Backcountry open waters with expanses of seagrass and mixed hard-bottom habitats are important foraging grounds for various life stages of loggerhead, green and hawksbill turtles. Survival of these endangered and threatened species depends upon healthy young and sub-adult turtles surviving into adulthood. Even the smallest disruption by people or vessels approaching too closely can interfere with foraging. Changes in habitats, sea-level rise on nesting beaches, impacts from fishing gear and pollution are also threats to the survival of sea turtle populations. Prohibitions on operating personal watercraft, airboats and hovercraft in the refuge and no-entry and buffer zones help shield turtles from human disturbance. Such restrictions also protect critical shallow water seagrass meadows from impacts that degrade habitat quality and affect sea turtle foraging and survival success.


Sanctuary Friends Launches New Website

Sanctuary Friends has a new website! Have you seen it yet? After several months of reconstruction, we are ready to share it with you. Some highlights include: ALL our monthly newsletters archived online, easy signup form for our newsletter, safe and secure online donation form and volunteer opportunities.
www.sanctuaryfriends.org
You can also learn all about our organization, our board of directors, its mission, our programs. For example, we have a section on Blue Star, Mooring Buoys, Coral Reef Classrooms and the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center. Additionally, our homepage links directly to the Keys Environmental Calendar, so you can find out all the environmentally-related events in your area at a glance. You can also find photos and information about our Sanctuary 27-Hole Golf Tournament and our Annual Marathon Lionfish Tournament.
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Please take a few minutes to peruse our new website and let us know what you think!


NewsMakers


Look Before You Book!

Launched in 2009, Blue Star salutes charter companies that help protect the Florida Keys coral reef ecosystem by promoting responsible snorkeling and diving practices, and educating their patrons on the role humans play in reef health. Unlike some of the more global causes of reef decline — such as climate change — damage to reefs from snorkeling and diving is considered easily preventable through education and experience.
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Blue Star operators are required to attend training annually on issues affecting coral reefs, sanctuary regulations and coral reef etiquette. In turn, Blue Star operators educate their customers by incorporating the information into certification classes and dive briefings. They also must offer conservation-related dive courses and participate in activities such as fish counts and reef clean-ups. Operators are re-evaluated every year.
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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:
Corals Protected
Sea Turtles in Keys Refuge
Friends' New Website
NewsMakers
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.
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Discovery Saturday: Magical Mangroves
Nov. 16, 10-11 am,
 Eco-Discovery Center, Key West
Kids in kindergarten through fifth grade are invited to join the free, fun-filled activity where they will learn about mangroves trees and the critters that call them home while playing games and making craft projects. Every third Saturday of the month. Call 305-809-4750 for more information.

Boating Skills & Seamanship Course
Nov. 30–Dec. 1, 9am-4pm, History of Diving Museum, 82990 Overseas Hwy., Islamorada
Sponsored by the Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 13-08. Topics include nautical highway signs, rules of the road, navigation, course charting, boat handling, equipment, radio procedures and other safe boating skills. This course qualifies participants for the Florida Boating Safety Education ID card. $45 per person, including materials. Advanced registration is required: jamestmarcotte@gmail.com; 850-291-6895.

FKNMS Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC) Meeting
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.


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

New & Returning Members ($30-$199)

Alison Scheflow

Leigh Williams

Benefactors ($200+)

Mildred Ryan

George and Suzie Neugent

Joe and Patricia Ivey

John and Arlene Mirabella

John Albert


SPONSORS
Please support the companies that support the FKNMS and Sanctuary Friends.
Platinum:
Waste Management
Marathon Garbage Service
Keys Sanitary
Sunbelt Rentals
Little Palm Island Resort
Cressi International
Centennial Bank
Gold:
The Weekly Newspapers
Hawks Cay Resort
Marathon Jet Center
Keys Acoustics Insulation
Tranquility Bay Resort
Silver:
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.


We want your input!
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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
info@SanctuaryFriends.org
www.SanctuaryFriends.org



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Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys
PO Box 504301
Marathon, FL 33050
USA

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