FLORIDA KEYS — Visitors from around the world are drawn to the Florida Keys for the priceless natural resources, including the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef system that runs parallel to the island chain.
The Nature Conservancy unveiled a group of simple practices that divers, snorkelers, anglers — all residents and visitors to the Keys who depend on this unique ecosystem for livelihood and recreation — can implement in their everyday activities to preserve, protect and nurture this resource and #RespectOurReef.
Anchors Away (from coral)
Check surroundings before dropping anchor and aim for the sandy bottom. Use a mooring ball instead, where available.
Look, Don’t Touch
Corals are live organisms and are extremely sensitive. Avoid touching them to prevent harm or breakage and help prevent transmission of foreign bacteria or disease.
Apply the Right In-Water Sunscreen
Avoid using sunscreens that contain chemicals harmful to reef organisms including oxybenzone, a common ingredient that is toxic to corals.
Keep It Clean
Whether fishing on the reef or off a pier, clean up any unwanted fishing line from the area to prevent harm to marine life and the coral reef. Do your part to keep pollution out of the oceans.
See It, Report It
Divers and anglers know the reef best and can recognize coral disease or other health issues of corals. Information is key, so report any issues that are spotted.
Take the Pledge, Share with Friends
Take the lead: encourage all your friends and followers on social media to join you and take the pledge to #RespectOurReef.
As stewards of priceless natural resources, environmentally aware visitors, alongside Keys residents, can practice #ConnectAndProtect with a culture of conservation while eating, playing, swimming, exploring and simply living each day in the magical 125-mile island chain.