Marine artist Lisa Lee Herman, owner of Gallery of the Arts Islamorada, is known throughout the Upper Keys for her gyotaku — the ancient Japanese art form for traditionally recording a catch. In fact, Herman greets her gyotaku-seeking clients, and the prized fish they want to preserve, at the dock following their angling excursions.
Erin Muir, a sixth-generation Upper Keys native, is descended from two founding Florida Keys families — the Albury and Lowe families that settled in the Keys in the 1860s — whose roots run as deep as those of the island chain’s shoreline mangroves. Now, Erin is Mote Marine Laboratory’s newly named Upper Keys engagement manager.
Divers and snorkelers explored part of the continental United States' only living coral barrier reef recently while rocking to a unique sub-sea concert that promoted reef protection. The Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival takes place annually at Looe Key Reef — one of the most spectacular areas of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Autumn Blum, founder of Stream2Sea skin and body care products, is a part-time Key Largo resident, avid diver and cosmetic chemist who developed sunscreen products proven safe for saltwater and freshwater fish and coral larvae. With Reef Renewal USA, she’s leading a “Crazy for Coral” mission to plant 10,000 corals by July 31.
Florida Keys visitors can join residents in becoming stewards of the island chain’s world-renowned coral reef ecosystem. Environmental enthusiasts can aid in reef restoration in the Keys, giving back to the living, dynamic underwater ecosystem. They can also benefit the underwater world by following responsible reef protection tips during their Keys vacations.
A unique refuge on the grounds of the Sheriff’s Office detention center near Key West shelters some surprising creatures: about 150 domestic and exotic animals from 45 species, ranging from armadillos to Kramer the emu. Benefiting both the animals and inmates who help care for them, the facility welcomes visitors twice each month.
Divers and ocean enthusiasts can celebrate the 20th “sink anniversary” of the third-largest vessel ever intentionally scuttled to become an artificial reef — the retired 510-foot Navy Landing Ship Dock Spiegel Grove, which lies off Key Largo — with events May 15-17 and a contest to win a Keys trip to dive the famous wreck.
Captain Dave Dipre, Marathon-based operational captain with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Division of Law Enforcement, oversees operations from Key Largo to Key West. His love of the Keys, and his sense of environmental responsibility, run as deep as the 125-mile-long island chain’s waters that he’s charged with protecting.
Encouraging actions that support the environment is a vital element of the Florida Keys’ commitment to protecting the island chain’s natural resources. And from Big Pine Key to Key West, visitors can find a wide variety of positive environmental activities and attractions that illustrate how to share that commitment — while making lasting memories.
Florida Keys visitors can discover a place embracing sustainability and the preservation of environmental wonders, filled with hammocks and rainforest areas, sandy beaches and on-the-water relaxation, and unique opportunities for world-class bird watching. Whether on land or water, the Keys’ natural world provides the rejuvenation that comes from time spent outdoors.