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Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys

In this Issue:

News & Notes
October 2009

Sanctuary Friends Foundation

  Our Amazing Ocean

Keys Host Marine Research Expeditions

NOAA Ship Nancy Foster (home port: Norfolk Va.) spent most of September right here in our very own Sanctuary completing two marine research expeditions.
NOAA Ship Nancy Foster

Coral Reef Disease and Condition Cruise
Beginning September 11, scientists from FKNMS and partnering universities and organizations embarked on a nine-day research mission to study the health of the renowned Keys reefs. Since 1997, scientists aboard the Coral Reef Disease and Condition Cruise have been monitoring coral health along almost 200 miles of the Florida Reef Tract.

During each annual mission, researchers perform more than 120 dives in order to survey 42 fixed stations at 13 reef sites within the Sanctuary, extending from Carysfort Reef off Key Largo westward through the Tortugas Ecological Reserve. Annual monitoring provides long-term data to compare trends in reef health over time that, in turn, contributes to management decisions and directs future research priorities.

This year's team of scientists hailed from across the country, from George Mason University to the Smithsonian Institute, and included a NOAA Teacher at Sea.

Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research Cruise
From September 22 - 30, a team of researchers headed to the Dry Tortugas to provide coastal managers with scientific information and tools to make informed stewardship decisions about the Tortugas North Ecological Reserve.

For nearly ten years, the research team has monitored fish and their habitats through diver surveys, hi-resolution underwater photography and sophisticated sonar. They conduct research to examine habitat utilization of fishes by sampling both on and off the reef, focusing on the deep edge, where it transitions into sand. Such data is critical to understanding how establishment of the Tortugas Ecological Reserve has affected the ecological balance of the region. Read more about the 2009 research cruise.

Hot Issues

Funding for Marine Litter Reduction

Remember the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" we featured in our August newsletter? It's an area in the middle of the North Pacific where plastic debris accumulates across hundreds of miles of open sea. It's an overwhelming problem that many are at a loss how to fix. Well, here's a project right in our backyard that's aimed at combating the problem at the grassroots level.

marine litter on beachThe Gulf & Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI), headquartered in Marathon, was recently awarded funding from the U.S. Department of State for a new multi-country project to reduce marine litter and develop and implement best waste management practices in the Wider Caribbean.

The broad goal of the project, which will run for two years, is to develop greater appreciation and personal responsibility for management of litter that would likely end up as marine debris in each of the five participating countries (Belize, Jamaica, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and The Bahamas). Through a combination of public education, teacher training, development of litter warden programs and the establishment of well-placed waste and recycling stations, the project will provide a number of visible and practical pilot litter control programs.

Technical oversight will be provided by GCFI and the Caribbean Marine Protected Areas Management Network and Forum (CaMPAM). Educational and other materials developed will be made available free of charge at For more information or to participate in other multi-country proposals, please contact Emma Doyle.

 Programs & Projects

Team OCEAN Cleanup:
Record Amount of Marine Debris Collected

Team OCEAN's Todd Hitchins and Robert Keeley were joined by a dozen volunteers this year for the Ocean Conservancy's International Cleanup day. Boca Chica Key, where the old US-1 borders the Naval Air Station, is also the edge of FKNMS' Western Sambo Ecological Reserve. Due to prevailing winds and currents, this area becomes a depository for huge amounts of marine debris, much of it floating in from Cuba, Haiti and even parts of Central America.

cleanup09.jpgVolunteers walked the beach and kayaked to remove plastic, cans, bottles, Styrofoam, polypropylene trap line and discarded beach furniture from this otherwise beautiful section of mangrove and beach shoreline. Total marine debris collected for proper disposal broke a new record for Team OCEAN: 1,618 pounds! Way to go, Team!

Team OCEAN volunteers contribute many hours to shoreline cleanups every year. These cleanups serve the community by beautifying our natural areas, and they help many species of wildlife by reducing entanglement and ingestion hazards posed by marine debris. Become a Team OCEAN volunteer.

Calling All Teachers!
Educators interested in gaining first-hand research experience on an ocean research trip should apply for NOAA's Teacher at Sea Program. All necessary travel costs are included. Visit to learn more and apply. Applications deadline is Dec. 31.
NMSF Welcomes New President
Jason Patlis has been named the new President & CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (NMSF), the private, non-profit partner to NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

Patlis has more than 19 years of experience in law, policy, finance and management. His specialty is the development and implementation of environmental laws and policies, with specific expertise in marine conservation, climate change and foreign assistance. Prior to joining the Foundation, he most recently worked at the World Wildlife Fund. He began his legal career as an attorney for NOAA, where he worked extensively on issues relating to the Endangered Species Act and protected resources.

Patlis will have to fill big shoes left by founding president Lori Arguelles and previously acting president Joy Williams.

Webinar Explores Lessons Learned in Keys

FKNMS was featured in a live “webinar” on October 19 hosted by MPA News and the EBM Tools Network. The purpose of the webinar was to explore lessons learned from MPA networking programs in the FKNMS and rocky reef MPAs in the Mediterranean. Speakers were Billy Causey, NMS, and Joachim Claudet, University of Salento (Italy). The 90-minute webinar featured presentations by the speakers, followed by questions submitted in advance and from the live webinar audience. Transcripts and more information.

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 Facebook Group is now a FAN PAGE.
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Updates, photos, videos, latest coral reef headlines and like-minded friends:
all in one place!

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:

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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Happy Halloween!
Don't be afraid ...

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

 From the Board


Last month, along with FKNMS's Team OCEAN program, I had the pleasure of participating in the 24th annual International Coastal Cleanup day sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy. Last year, there were nearly 400,000 volunteers, in thousands of separately organized events, who collected more than 6.8 million pounds of trash along ocean, island and other waterway shorelines in 100 countries and 42 U.S. states – the largest volunteer effort of its kind.

Hard to believe our beautiful shorelines could be full of so much trash! In separate loads, I collected two lawn chairs, two plastic crates, plastic water bottles, cups, caps, single and multiple gallon plastic jugs, a rusted metal bucket, plastic grocery store and dry chemical bags and personal hygiene items. And did I mention I found a lot of plastic?

Some people might call me nuts to find pleasure in picking up trash, but it is very tangible, good work. I got exercise, sunshine, camaraderie and the feeling of knowing that I was participating in something much bigger than myself – global in nature – that made a significant difference.

One way you can make a difference is by joining Sanctuary Friends. We support the efforts of groups like Team OCEAN and their missions to keep plastics and other debris out of our oceans – and shockingly, out of the bellies of our seabirds. Every contribution, no matter how small, helps. Please consider becoming a part of the solution.

Dolly M. Garlo
SFFFK President

Upcoming Events

Ladies, Let's Go Fishing!
Nov. 13-15, Islamorada
Held in conjunction with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Become an angler or improve your fishing skills in just one weekend! More information.

The Story of Man's Quest to Explore Under the Sea: Monthly Seminar Series
Nov. 18, History of Diving Museum, Islamorada
Third Wednesday of every month at 7 pm, featuring fascinating speakers from around the world. Divers' Antique Road Show after each seminar.

Discovery Saturday - Marine Mammals
Nov. 21, 9:30 – 11:30 am, Eco-Discovery Center
Programs held the third Saturday of every month for children in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Participants will learn about the characteristics that define a marine mammal and the underwater communication techniques they use, as well as have the opportunity to make marine-themed crafts. Attendance is free, and preregistration is recommended. Call 809-4750 to register.
Future dates and topics
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.

Protection for Deep Sea Coral Habitat
More than 23,000 square miles of complex deepwater corals located off the coasts of the Carolinas, Georgia and eastern Florida likely will be protected by early 2010. A protective measure advanced in September to safeguard specific areas inhabited by coral species living in waters ranging from 1,200 to 2,300 feet deep, creating the largest deepwater coral protected area off the Atlantic Coast.

Crab Perched on Deepwater Coral

The measure aims to shield these areas from fishing practices that drag heavy gear across the sea floor and involved working closely with golden crab and royal red shrimp fishermen and coral reef experts to craft measures that allow continued fishing while ensuring these coral areas, some of which are thousands of years old, are protected.

The South Atlantic region holds what the council believes to be the largest contiguous distribution of deepwater corals in the world, including the common Lophelia coral, largely responsible for reef mound construction in these cold-water areas. Deep sea corals off the southeast coast include hundreds of pinnacles up to 500 feet tall inhabited by a variety of marine species, including sponges with unusual chemistry now being tested to develop drugs for the treatment of cancer and heart disease. At the beginning of the decade few people knew of the existence of these vast areas carpeted with corals in deep waters off the South Atlantic coast.

Source: Environment News Service

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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