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Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys
September 2015
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.

Scientists Study Deep Reefs of Pulley Ridge
for Possible Expansion of FKNMS

Earlier this month, a team of university, state and federal scientists finished exploring Pulley Ridge, a little-known deep reef where spectacular plate coral colonies blanket the seafloor, and red groupers actually help create habitat. FKNMS is looking at the science from this project to see how closely fish, corals, and marine life in Pulley Ridge are connected to the Florida Keys.
Large plate corals are a common site at Pulley Ridge. Credit: Mike Echevarria, Florida Aquarium
The research team conducted its final fieldwork excursion from Aug. 22 to Sept. 4 using the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Mohawk. The team photographed the seafloor to help scientists characterize the benthic zone and fish communities there and sampled marine life to aid in identification of specific species. One of the highlights of the multi-year research project was last year’s discovery of a large patch (more than 195 feet across) of nearly continuous plate coral.
Pulley Ridge lies 33 miles northwest of the western most boundary of the FKNMS and is the deepest known photosynthetic coral reef off the continental U.S. It is home to giant barrel sponges and largely undisturbed plate corals. Nearby, pits in the seafloor created by red groupers make for a complex habitat that supports a wide range of other species – including colorful fish such as the purple reef fish and tasty ones such as vermillion snapper. Scientists believe this ecosystem serves as a source of invertebrate and fish larvae riding the Loop Current’s easterly and southward curvature from Florida’s coast to the sanctuary.
Pulley Ridge is an area the SAC requested NOAA analyze for potential inclusion within the FKNMS. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council already designated it a Habitat Area of Particular Concern (HAPC) in 2005 because it fits the criteria of being rare, ecologically important and susceptible to environmental stress (e.g. oil spills). Specific fishing regulations within the HAPC prohibit bottom anchoring by fishing vessels, bottom trawling, longlines, buoy gear, traps and pots; however, the designation does not protect Pulley Ridge from anchoring by non-fishing vessels, impacts from divers or from any other non-extractive uses, all of which can impact the health of the reef. Also, some of the more newly discovered reefs at Pulley Ridge are not protected as part of the HAPC. If it were to become part of the sanctuary, additional management capabilities available under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act would provide further protection to from non-fishing related activities such as anchoring, discharges and dumping, cable laying, or oil, gas, and mineral extraction.

Reef Do's & Don'ts

  • Always snorkel with a partner or dive buddy.
  • Move slowly and look closely; there’s so much life to see if you take your time.
  • Always look at your navigation charts before you near a coral reef.
  • Use mooring balls instead of anchoring the boat.
  • Watch the weather and get a weather or radar report before leaving the dock.
  • Be aware of currents, tides and waves when nearing sensitive coral reef areas.
  • Make sure your dive and snorkel equipment is in good working order.
  • Pick up floating trash you see in the water; always leave things better than you found them.
  • Enjoy the natural beauty of our undersea reef environment. It’s truly amazing out there! 
Reef Do's & Don'ts
  • Never touch corals with your hands, dive fins or anything else.
  • Do not actively seek out interaction with dolphins, sharks or sea turtles.
  • Do not stand on a coral reef or coral head, as you will damage it or kill the corals.
  • Never anchor your boat on or too near coral reefs or coral heads as you could easily cause damage.
  • Don’t fish or spearfish in marine special protected reef areas.
  • Never attempt to feed fish or marine animals.
  • Do not stray too far from your boat while snorkeling or diving.
  • Never litter in the ocean or leave anything behind that may harm the marine environment.

Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC) Applications Due Sept. 30

FKNMS is seeking applicants for nine seats on its advisory council. Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC) members represent boating, conservation and environment, diving, education and outreach, South Florida ecosystem restoration, fishing (commercial and recreational), elected county government, submerged cultural resources, research and monitoring, tourism and the community at large. Candidates are selected based on their expertise and experience in relation to the seat for which they are applying, community and professional affiliations, and views regarding the protection and management of marine resources. Applicants who are chosen as members should expect to serve three-year terms. The council meets six times a year. Application packages are due Sept. 30.
Sanctuary Advisory Council meetingThe SAC ensures public participation in sanctuary management and provides advice to the sanctuary superintendent. Councils also serve as liaisons between their constituents in the community and sanctuaries and provide advice about sanctuary operations and projects, including education and outreach, research and science, regulations and enforcement, and management planning. They are particularly critical in helping a sanctuary during its designation and management plan review process. Council members provide expertise on both the local community and sanctuary resources, strengthen connections with the community, and help build increased stewardship for sanctuary resources.
In 1990, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Protection Act was approved, authorizing the establishment of the Sanctuary Advisory Council for FKNMS. The first council meeting took place in February 1992.


Mote Partners with FKCC

Mote Marine Laboratory and Florida Keys Community College (FKCC) forged a new education-focused partnership this year that will benefit students, faculty and scientists while enhancing Keys-based research and restoration of marine resources such as coral reefs.
Leaders of the two institutions signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) laying the foundation for collaborations in marine research and education serving the common missions and goals of both institutions. Under the agreement, Mote and FKCC will explore exciting opportunities to partner in teaching, introduce more undergraduate students to the cutting-edge marine science at Mote’s research facility on Summerland Key and share research and education facilities and infrastructure.
As leaders of learning in the Keys, Mote and FKCC staff have already teamed up in recent years. For example, they have partnered to receive a National Science Foundation grant for a tropical mariculture course, Mote scientists have taught a small number of FKCC courses, and FKCC students have interned at Mote’s research facility. The new MOU is a framework that will allow institution leaders, scientists and faculty to develop more specific plans for collaboration.

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In This Issue:
Pulley Ridge Research
Reef Do's & Don'ts
SAC Applications Due Sept. 30
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.

International Coastal Cleanup
Sept. 19
Ocean trash is a serious pollution problem that affects the health of people, wildlife and local economies. Join the world’s largest volunteer effort for our ocean and waterways by participating in the International Coastal Cleanup sponsored by Ocean Conservancy. An astounding 560,000 volunteers in 91 countries picked up more than 16 million pounds of trash in the 2014 event.
Local cleanups will be at Higgs Beach and Nature Beach in Key West, Boca Chica Beach, Long Beach in Big Pine Key, Bahia Honda and more. Find a cleanup near you!

REEF Fest 2015
Sept. 24-27, Key Largo
Celebrate the impact and success of marine conservation and education initiatives in the Florida Keys. Events include educational seminars, social gatherings and diving alongside some of the most prestigious names in diving and marine conservation. All REEF Fest events are open to the public, but pre-registration is requested for social events and seminars. Registration, schedule and more information can be found here.

Save the Date: Sanctuary Friends Annual Golf Tournament

Oct. 18, 8 am, Key West Golf Club

Four person teams are $100/person. More information and registration to come.

August/September 2015
Welcome! Thank you for your support!
New & Returning Members ($30-$199)
Drew MacKenzie



Susan Horvat

Webster Walker

Please support the companies that support the FKNMS and Sanctuary Friends.
Waste Management
Marathon Garbage Service
Keys Sanitary
Sunbelt Rentals
Cressi International
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
Bee Brothers
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
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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
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Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys
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Marathon, Florida 33050
Tel: (305)
289-2288 Fax: (305) 289-2289

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Marathon, FL 33050

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