marine conservation

Sherrilyn Cabrera / WLRN

The Florida Keys depend on the coral reef tract and marine life for much more than just recreation. They're vital to the economy, contributing billions of dollars in tourism and travel to the region. But pollution, development and a warming ocean have had catastrophic effects on the environment. 

The Turtle Hospital

He's not from around these parts. Yet somehow he's here.

Harry, an Olive Ridley sea turtle, was found floating roughly six miles offshore Tavernier in February. He had injuries from being tangled up in a fishing net on all four flippers.   

He was treated with antibiotics, nutrition via IV, laser therapy and more, including lots of fish, shrimp and squid. He's recovered enough that he's scheduled for release at Higgs Beach in Key West at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Harry will carry a satellite transmitter for tracking.

Nick Zachar / NOAA

The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary has released its restoration blueprint, an ambitious plan with some major changes for the sanctuary, including expanding its boundaries, adding more protected areas and, in a few cases, limiting access to popular reefs for snorkeling.

Jenny Staletovich/WLRN

In a gravel parking lot on Virginia Key crowded with shade tanks used for raising fish, coral researchers have a new project underway: a Noah's Ark for disappearing coral.

Blenny Fish
Courtesy Jack Israel / WLRN

Anglins Fishing Pier in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea has been open since 1941, and many consider it to be a town staple. However, it has been only partially open for fishing and sightseeing since Hurricane Irma damaged part of it in 2017. 

Underwater workers first began to repair the historic structure this spring. But a small group of divers is now concerned that a tiny fish that lives among barnacles there - the Tessellated Blenny - may have had its marine habitat damaged in the process. 

courtesy: George Schellenger

Guy Harvey’s art is more often worn then hung.

His watercolors and pen and ink drawings, of marlins, mako sharks and mahi, are on t-shirts, hats and even dog collars. He has been licensing his artwork to put on clothes since the late 1980s.

The federal government, with the help of Mote Marine Laboratory, is continuing to investigate a significant spike in dolphin deaths in the Gulf of Mexico -- and they want to know if red tide is playing a part in it.

The jury is in on marine reserves: They work. Research has repeatedly shown that fish numbers quickly climb following well-enforced fishing bans, creating tangible benefits for fishers who work the surrounding waters. In fact, many experts believe fishing will only be sustainable if marine reserves are expanded significantly.

That's why some activists and scientists are now discussing the idea of creating a marine reserve so big it would cover most of the ocean. Specifically, they want fishing banned in international waters.

The oceans are getting warmer and fish are noticing. Many that live along U.S. coastlines are moving to cooler water. New research predicts that will continue, with potentially serious consequences for the fishing industry.

FWC

A Texas woman was arrested in Key West Friday, after an officer from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found her with three plastic containers holding 40 queen conch.

The mollusk — the symbol of the Florida Keys — is protected and cannot be taken from the water in Florida.

Most of the animals were still alive and were returned to the water.

Caleb Jones / AP

A mass bleaching of coral reefs worldwide is finally easing after three years, U.S. scientists announced Monday.

About three-quarters of the world's delicate coral reefs were damaged or killed by hot water in what scientists say was the largest coral catastrophe.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a global bleaching event in May 2014. It was worse than previous global bleaching events in 1998 and 2010.

Mariela Care / Florida Keys News Service

The Turtle Hospital in Marathon released a 330-pound green sea turtle back to the sea off the Keys Friday, just in time for nesting season.

The turtle was found entangled in multiple crab trap lines in February off Marathon. A veterinary team partially amputated her right, rear flipper.

As is the Turtle Hospital's custom, she was nicknamed by her rescuers, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officers Jeff Carroll and Olly Adams. They named her Jolly.

Monroe County Marine Resources

In the Florida Keys, land is at a premium. But there's plenty of water — which means in recent years the area has seen an increase in the number of floating structures.

That's defined in state law as something that floats but is not a means of transportation, like a boat. Floating structures are used as homes, restaurants — and recently in the Keys, for a playground and an advertisement for helicopter tours.

Pages