Divers Celebrate the Spirit of Earth Day Throughout the Spring and Summer in the Florida Keys
FLORIDA KEYS — Divers in the Florida Keys can observe Earth Day not just April 22, but throughout April and beyond with activities that support and preserve the unique marine ecosystem. Highlights include learning how to fragment corals for replanting throughout the area’s reef system, paired with a Reef Renewal USA coral nursery dive, and a REEF Environmental Education Foundation campaign to capture and remove invasive lionfish.
Captain Hook’s on Big Pine Key in the Lower Keys teams with Reef Renewal USA on citizen science activities that enable divers to gain knowledge while actively aiding reef restoration durig coral nursery dives. The next program is scheduled for May 22 to include a Coral Nursery Dive to work on “coral tree” development and planting. Call Captain Hook’s at 305-872-9836 to schedule. Captain Hook’s is located at 29675 Overseas Highway. For more information, visit captainhooks.com/coral-program.
Key Largo’s REEF Environmental Education Foundation Lionfish Sweeps rewards the steady removal of invasive and harmful lionfish from area reefs with cash prizes and raffles. Participants can drop off caught lionfish at the REEF Campus at 98300 Overseas Highway in Key Largo from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or on Mondays at Mote Marine Laboratory’s Summerland Key facility at 24244 Overseas Highway, each week through June 30. For more information, visit reef.org/events/2023-florida-keys-lionfish-sweeps.
Rainbow Reef Dive Center in Key Largo invites divers to participate in its next monthly monthly Dive Against Debris orientation and dive activity Friday, May 19, in cooperation with Clean Seas Florida and PADI Aware. Participating divers will be trained on how to safely and successfully remove debris found while diving. For more information, visit facebook.com/rainbow.reef.dive.center/events.
Islamorada Conservation and Restoration Education, known as I.CARE, works with three Islamorada-area dive operators to offer divers experiences that are filled with education and training on coral restoration in the morning followed by two dives in the afternoon. Dive participants transplant coral and perform maintenance and cleaning on coral reefs, as well as monitoring previously transplanted corals. The activities are offered on select Saturdays by Key Dives, Islamorada Dive Center and Conch Republic Divers in cooperation with I.CARE. The organization is also hosting a multi-day Trash Derby May 11 to 13, with a large, public festival at Islamorada's Founders Park on May 13. For dive dates visit icareaboutcoral.org/schedule
and for the Trash Derby, visit icaretrashderby.com
Volunteering for Reef Renewal USA and other organizations is a wonderful way for divers to give back to the underwater world of the Keys.