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REEF AWARENESS WEEK SET FOR JULY 25-AUG. 1

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KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Reef Awareness Week, a celebration of the living coral reef that parallels the Florida Keys, is scheduled for July 25-Aug. 1.

The event is presented by Reef Relief, a Key West–based not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting living coral reef ecosystems worldwide. Themed “Water Resources Partners ... We All Live Downstream,” Reef Awareness Week blends fun-filled activities with environmental education programs to stimulate an increased awareness in residents and visitors of the reef ecosystem and reef protection efforts.

“We can all make a difference by supporting efforts to clean up land-based sources of pollution because this will improve water quality and help save precious coral reefs,” said DeeVon Quirolo, project director for Reef Relief. “The week’s activities encourage us to think about what we can do every day in our own lives to protect coral reefs.”

As part of Reef Awareness Week, a scientific panel discussion on the health and preservation of the reef is to be held Thursday, July 29, 6 p.m. at the Hilton Key West Resort & Marina, 245 Front St. Other awareness-raising events include a community shoreline cleanup on Sunday, July 25, at Trumbo Road; reef awareness documentaries on local cable television; sea kayaking nature tours on Friday, July 30; and a snorkel tour to the coral nursery at Western Sambo Reef on Monday, July 26.

Among the scheduled highlights is a Grateful Diver Photo Contest. Divers are requested to submit original slides of underwater, saltwater, freshwater or upland shots reflecting the Reef Awareness Week theme. Entry is free, and prizes will be awarded for the best macroshot, best wide angle, best comic shot and best overall photograph. To enter the Reef Relief Grateful Diver Contest, call (305) 294-3100 prior to July 24. The winner is to be announced at a 7 p.m. ceremony and party Friday, July 30, at the Pilot House Marina Tiki Bar at mile marker 100 in Key Largo.

A traditional Reef Awareness Week favorite is the annual splicing party to prepare pick-up lines for Key West-area reef mooring buoys maintained by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The party is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 28, on the docks at the Historic Seaport at Key West Bight. Other events, such as a moonlight sail aboard the Schooner Western Union, are designed to focus on the beauty of the marine world and encourage an increased interest in preserving it.

Major sponsors of Reef Awareness Week are American Express and the South Florida Water Management District. For more information about the event, or about Reef Relief’s efforts to preserve the coral reef ecosystem, contact Reef Relief at (305) 294-3100 or visit the organization’s internet Web site at www.reefrelief.org.

For lodging information in the Key West area, call the Key West Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-LAST-KEY, or visit the Keys Web site at www.fla-keys.com.

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