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Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys

In this Issue:

News & Notes
December 2009

Sanctuary Friends Foundation

  Our Amazing Ocean

The Story of Christ of the Abyss,
Our Underwater Statue

Christ of the Abyss is an 8 1/2 foot, 4,000 pound bronze sculpture of Jesus Christ that stands in 25 feet of water off of Key Largo, Florida. It is located near Dry Rocks, about six miles east-northeast of the Key Largo Cut, in the FKNMS.
Christ of the Abyss by Stephen Frink

The statue is one of three cast from a mold by an Italian sculptor Guido Galletti. The original "Il Christo Degli Abissi" was modeled after Italian swimmer/diver Duillo Mercanet and placed in the Mediterranean Sea off Genoa, Italy, in 1954.

In 1961, the second casting from the original mold was placed in St. George's Harbor in Grenada to commemorate those saved from the Italian ship Bianca C. which caught fire and sank in the harbor. In 1961 Italian SCUBA entrepreneur Egidi Cressi commissioned the third casting, and donated it to the Underwater Society of America. The statue ended up in storage at O'Hare airport in Chicago, waiting for a home. Thanks to the attention of Senator Spessard Holland of Florida, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was chosen by the Florida State Park Service for the placement.

Before the statue could be lowered into the selected underwater location - a task that took three days in itself - the statue had to be prepared. Park personnel poured huge concrete base slabs adding approximately 16,000 pounds to the total weight. Final placement was successful on August 25, 1965.

The official dedication took place a year later, but first, the statue had to withstand a test. Hurricane Betsy provided this on September 8 when she provided Category III wind churned seas. Despite many doubters, the Christ stood firm and tall, and did not move.

The Christ Statue is one of the most famous and visited underwater sites on earth, accessible to divers and snorkelers alike! Shallow high profile spur and groove coral formations are surrounded by relatively flat, coral and sponge encrusted hard bottom, and sand. Large Spotted Eagle Rays and Southern Stingrays are often sighted near the sandy perimeter. No matter what your beliefs, this spot deserves a look. Photo by Stephen Frink.

Hot Issues

Caribbean Connectivity:
Implications for MPA Management 

In ecological terms, connectivity doesn't refer to how many wireless devices one owns, but rather the exchange of individual fish among geographically separated populations. Scientists study "connectivity" in an attempt to quantify the interconnection among local groups, a topic of considerable importance because of the growing prevalence no-take marine reserves.

Setting up Marine Protected Area (MPA) networks to optimize connectivity is something policymakers grapple with. The phenomenon has been dubbed "The Goldilocks Effect" by Simon Thorrold, senior scientist in the Biology Department of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: Create an MPA that's too small and too few larvae settle within the MPA to sustain the population. Create an MPA that's too big and all the juveniles remain in the reserves, out of the bounds of commercial fisheries. The trick is to create an MPA network that's "just right."

Clownfish sheltering in an anemone from Kimbe BayNearly all marine organisms move during some period of their lives. Many species move long distances during the first phase of their lives, then settle and remain within a relatively small area or "home range." Other animals routinely roam over large distances but come together for short times each year for mating. Still others migrate collectively from one home range to another and back again for feeding or reproduction. These various types of movements create biological "connections" between different areas of the world's oceans.

Unfortunately, researchers have little more than a rudimentary understanding of the scale over which this connectivity occurs. To effectively manage and protect populations of marine species, we need to understand these biological connections, as well as the connections created by the movements of fishermen, and how they collectively influence the performance of MPAs. If we are to succeed in protecting and sustainably using our marine assets (fisheries, tourism, biodiversity, habitats) for the long term, we need to start thinking beyond our MPA, section of the coast, or island.

Difficulties in exchanging information on lessons learned continue to constrain informed decision-making due to the geographic, socioeconomic, and cultural complexities of the Caribbean region. At the same time, communication among professionals has become progressively more vital. As MPAs continue to be proposed and implemented, the efficient exchange of information is now more critical than ever.

One way FKNMS is "connecting" with other MPAs is through CaMPAM (Caribbean Marine Protected Areas Managers Network and Forum). This organization was created to bring together MPA researchers, administrators, managers and educators from governmental entities, organizations and the private sector in an inclusive network to exchange ideas and lessons learned. Source: ScienceDaily (Mar. 31, 2009)

 Programs & Projects

NEW Keys-wide Environmental Calendar

The first and only Florida Keys Environmental Event Calendar is up and running! This community-wide resource allows any environmentally-related organization or group to set up an account and post events. We hope it will be THE place to find great activities to both support and celebrate our precious local natural resources.

The purpose of the calendar is to make the public aware of all environmental events in the Florida Keys that either educate or provide a forum on many of the environmental issues in our area. Most are free, some require registration and all are to promote the understanding and movement towards a sustainable environment here.

Florida Keys Environmental Calendar
To qualify for a free online listing, your event must be:
  • Sponsored by a nonprofit or for-profit organization.
  • A conference, workshop, seminar, institute, or other major event, festivals, workshops, hearings, public meetings, national TV, volunteer activities or events intended primarily for the general public.
  • Regional in scope.
  • Support environmental activities in the FKNMS and surrounding Monroe County.
  • Online OR live events can be posted.

It's easy to add your event to the most comprehensive environmental calendar of events listing in the Florida Keys. The first step is to request an account. Once you have been approved and have selected a username and password, you can "add your group's event to our calendar." Once your event has been approved by an administrator, it will be displayed on the calendar in the appropriate location.

Please note: All submissions are subject to review. Submission does not guarantee publication. SFFFK reserves the right to select and edit the listings submitted for publication. For more information or to request an account, contact the calendar administrator at

Your Holiday Shopping Can Make a Difference for our Sanctuary!
Here's a simple way you can help support Sanctuary Friends this holiday season AND the rest of the year. Just download the GoodSearch toolbar and we'll earn money every time you shop and search online. donates up to 30 percent of each purchase to your favorite cause - in this case, us! Thousands of great stores including Amazon, Target, Gap, Best Buy, eBay, Macy's and Barnes & Noble. The toolbar will automatically credit your designated charity or school for virtually all of your purchases at participating stores. You can also "shop for a cause" by going directly to The site also has thousands of money-saving coupons. is a new Yahoo-powered search engine that donates half its advertising revenue, about a penny per search, to the charities its users designate. 

GoodSearch and GoodShop have been featured in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, The Oprah Magazine, Good Morning America and more. Please spread the word to all your friends and family to start their holiday shopping at GoodShop!
Proposed Sewage Discharge Ban

A proposed rule will prohibit the discharge of sewage from vessels into FKNMS waters and require vessel sewage tanks be locked to prevent discharges within sanctuary boundaries. Public comments on the proposed rule will be accepted through February 17.

Vessel sewage discharge has been prohibited in state waters of the sanctuary since their designation as a No Discharge Zone by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2002. Although 65 percent of the sanctuary is within state waters, the remaining federal waters -- with the exception of specially-protected zones -- currently permit vessel sewage discharge.

Comments may be submitted electronically via the eRulemaking Portal (FDMS Docket Number NOAA- NOS-2009-0181) or by mail to Sean Morton, Acting Superintendent, FKNMS, 33 East Quay Road, Key West, Florida 33040.

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We want your input! If you have stories of note or just want to comment on our newsletter, please email:
We're developing a Central Environmental Calendar for the Keys. If you have an upcoming event with an environmental focus or that relates to our fabulous Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, please email:

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Happy Holidays from all of us at Sanctuary Friends! May you have peace, joy and happiness in the New Year.

Become a Sanctuary Friend
help support our coral reef
and marine ecosystems.

 From the Board

Dear Friends:
This month's newsletter highlights a topic we call "Connectivity." The FKNMS lies in a crossroads of connectivity between the areas upstream in the Wider Caribbean -- as far away as Venezuela -- and downstream to the massive watershed of the Mississippi River and its tributaries that drain into the Gulf of Mexico. The watersheds of at least 25 states drain 40 percent of the continental US into the Gulf ... all upstream of the Florida Keys. Our coral reefs are as connected to St. Louis as they are to Caracas!

For decades, MPA and Park managers focused their management within the boundaries of their areas of responsibility. Yet decline of some natural resources continued. Today, most managers realize they have to look well beyond their areas of jurisdiction to address the local, regional and global impacts that affect their protected areas.

Numerous advancements can assist us in understanding the concepts of connectivity and ecosystem-based approaches to management. Satellite tracking current meters, remote satellite imagery, C-Man monitoring systems and a host of other technologies have made it possible to grasp the extent to which we must focus our work.

However, success depends upon everyone understanding these principals. If you live in Chicago, you have an impact on America's only living barrier coral reef. We all must work together to think of both domestic and international partnerships and collaborations to lessen the impact of climate change, land-based sources of pollution, habitat destruction and over-fishing that are currently affecting the coral reefs of the Florida Keys.

Billy Causey, Regional Director
Southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Region, National Marine Sanctuary Program Ex-Officio/Advisory, SFFFK Board of Directors

Upcoming Events

Waterways Wednesdays Free Movies:
Big Fish Night

Jan. 13, 7 pm, National Wildlife Refuge Building, Big Pine Key
Free popcorn & door prize raffle! Bring your lawn chairs for some family-friendly movies sponsored by FAVOR. Outdoor showing of three films: It's in Your Hands, PBS Changing Seas episode, Super Grouper and the Cousteau Ocean Adventures series episode Sharks at Risk.

If your group would like to host an Eco-Film Night, contact Robert Keeley at 305-360-1172.

Public Comment Meetings on
Proposed Sewage Discharge Ban

All meetings are from 4:30 to 6:30 pm.
January 21 - Marathon Garden Club, 5270 Overseas Hwy (MM50)
January 25 - Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, 35 East Quay Road, Key West
January 27 - Islamorada Library, MM81.5 bayside (next to the firehouse)

Coming ...
"Eco-Discovery Tours:
Discover the Florida Keys through eco-friendly and historical excursions."
Thousands of islands ... thousands of stories

The Eco-Discovery Center and Sanctuary Friends team up to take visitors on journeys that will teach them about the history and natural wonders of the 1,700 islands that are called the Florida Keys.

Learn underwater photography from an instructor who knows the secrets of the reef, experience the rich history of writers that have called Key West their home, discover nature's beauty as you kayak under the moon through canopied mangrove islands or share a gourmet dinner with local chefs who are dedicated to using organic, local and Floridian delights.

For more information, call 305-289-2288 or e-mail to request a brochure.

EcoWeek 2010
Coming! Nov. 1-14, 2010
A Keys-wide event to educate and celebrate environmental preservation. Special activities in the Upper, Middle and Lower Keys. Inaugural event in 2010 to celebrate healthy living, a healthy planet and peaceable and sustainable communities.

MacLaughlin Recognized
for Work on Climate Change

FKNMS resource manager Lauri MacLaughlin was part of a team awarded the Department of Commerce's prestigious Silver Medal Honor Award in Washington, DC, on Nov. 19. MacLaughlin and four fellow NOAA scientists were recognized for their roles in the development of tools and products to predict and monitor the effects of climate change, as well as their efforts to build capacity among international coral reef managers.

DOC Silver Metal Award Winners

MacLaughlin helped organize a four-day workshop "Responding to Climate Change" which brought together coral reef experts and marine park managers from the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Florida. The workshop was designed to aid managers in better preparing for and responding to impacts of climate change, including coral bleaching.

Gold and Silver Medals for distinguished and exceptional performance are the most prestigious awards the Department gives its employees.

blue & green occasions

celebrating the event...
                 honoring the earth and sea


We invite you to hold your special celebrations, business meetings and other occasions in a meaningful way at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center. Our staff will help you celebrate in a green way, and your donations will help to give back to the “Sanctuary.” Call today to reserve your date and share your celebration with the earth and sea! Call 847-612-4712 or email.

Our Mission
Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys supports the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) in the preservation, restoration, and sustainable use of our coral reef and marine ecosystems. 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
11450 Overseas Highway
Suite 102
Marathon, Florida 33050

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