Florida Keys

Seychelle Hattingh

A Key Largo native is making a name for herself in stand up paddling, and is now among the top 10 fastest female paddlers in the world.

Twenty-eight-year-old Seychelle Hattingh started using a stand up paddle board two years ago. Already, she has become a world class competitor. Hattingh just came home to the Keys after a series of wildly successful competitions in France, Spain and Germany.

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  Attorneys for Harlem Suarez, the 24-year-old Key West man arrested last year on a charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, are seeking to delay his trial after the shootings at an Orlando nightclub.

  Suarez was arrested last year after federal agents said he made a recruitment video for the Islamic State. Suarez bought materials and worked with an undercover agent to make a bomb that was planned to go off on a beach or under a police car, according to the arrest affidavit.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

  A survey of households in Key Haven, the neighborhood proposed for the first U.S. trial of genetically modified mosquitoes, found a majority of respondents opposed to the test.

Researchers from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore sent surveys to every household in the neighborhood.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

  Indian Key at first appears like a typical South Florida island — mangroves on the shore, buttonwoods inland.

  But Brad Bertelli sees a different place. He sees Indian Key from almost two centuries back.

"In its heyday, the island was home to as many as 150 people," Bertelli said. "There were 45 buildings. There was a hotel with a nine-pin bowling alley. Billiards tables, restaurant, saloon."

Miami Herald

Florida Power & Light has until June 24 to provide a plan to the state Department of Environmental Protection to stop the saltwater plume that originates in the cooling canals at its Turkey Point nuclear power plant in South Miami-Dade.

On Monday, state Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami-Dade,  told the South Florida Regional Planning Commission that it was important for people from throughout the region to weigh in and make sure the fix gets done right. 

Monroe County Public Library

  The Monroe County Public Library system has five branches that are spread across 100 miles, from Key Largo to Key West.

But the library's collection has traveled much much farther. It can go anywhere with an internet connection.

  In 2007, the library started posting images from its history collection online, on the photo-sharing site Flickr. Recently, that site surpassed 16 million views.

Monroe County Sheriff's Office

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office is reminding boaters to take one more step before loading up and leaving the Keys: Tie down your boat. If not, you can wind up like the unfortunate driver Tuesday morning whose boat came off its trailer on the Overseas Highway in Marathon. A tow truck was called to the scene and the Florida Highway Patrol is investigating. Besides that expense, failing to properly secure your boat is a civil infraction that can result in a ticket.

Greg Lasley/VIREO / Audubon

Imagine lush mangroves, romantic background music and about two dozen good looking members of the opposite sex. Sounds like the perfect place to meet your mate. 

At least that's what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is going for, as it tries to get  the Magnificent Frigatebirds of the Florida Keys to relocate their nesting sites.

Florida Fish And Wildlife Commission

  The boat that ran into a patch reef off Key West recently left without reporting the grounding. But it left some pieces behind.

"Essentially, this is a hit-and-run on the coral," said Sean Morton, superintendent of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. "We're on the lookout for a very large boat that is missing one prop and has probably a very large dent and damage to the hull on the front."

Lighthousefriends.com

A group of 19 Cuban migrants jumped off their boat and swam to the American Shoal lighthouse when a Coast Guard boat approached Friday morning.  The group surrendered to authorities shortly after 5 pm on Friday and was transported to a Coast Guard cutter for processing, according to the Coast Guard.

The lighthouse was built in 1880 and has an enclosed area within the structure, where the lighthouse keepers once lived. 

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

  Key deer were almost hunted to extinction. By 1950, as few as 25-50 of the animals were left.

But the creation of the National Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key and protection under the Endangered Species Act have led to a comeback. The most recent population study estimates the herd at 900 to 1,000.

"They are truly one of the success stories of conservation," said Adam Emerick, a refuge biologist who gave an update on the Key deer to the Monroe County Commission this week.

Carol Tedesco / Key West Art & Historical Society

  On Michael Gieda's first day at work with the Key West Art & Historical Society, he checked out one of the society's three museums, Fort East Martello.

There he found a couple of local artists working on some pieces that had been in the society's collection for almost 30 years.

  "I remember walking up to the second floor of the citadel where all these pieces were being treated and just being utterly and completely blown away by this collection of sculpture," Gieda said.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

  While Florida is focusing on the prospect of the Zika virus getting a foothold in the state, the focus in the Florida Keys is on Aedes aegypti, the mosquitoes that carry the disease.

That's because the British company Oxitec has proposed its first U.S. trial of a genetically modified version of the mosquito in a Keys neighborhood. The Cayman Islands, site of the first-ever field trial six years ago, recently agreed to go forward with releasing the Oxitec mosquitoes.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Fishing guide Tad Burke is right at home on the water. It takes him less than an hour in his skiff to get from his neighborhood boat ramp in Tavernier to Rankin Key. That's a mangrove island just off the ragged southern edge of the mainland.

What Burke sees worries him.

"This used to be one of my favorite areas to fish," he said. This place used to be loaded with snook and redfish and tarpon laying off the edge of the flats out here. Now it's an area I wouldn't even consider stopping in."

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

While the FDA has released a preliminary finding of no significant impact from a proposed test of genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys, many in the neighborhood where the test would take place are opposed to the plan.

Oxitec, the company that makes the genetically modified version of aedes aegypti, is holding two public meetings in Key West this week to answer questions from the public, especially those in Key Haven. That neighborhood, a peninsula about five miles from Key West, is the proposed testing site.

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