Florida Keys

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.

C-SPAN.org

 
Oxitec

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended the public comment period to May 13 on a proposed field trial in the Florida Keys. The trial involves the release of a thousand genetically modified mosquitoes.

It would be the first such trial in the U.S. by Oxitec, a British company that genetically alters the males in the Aedes aegypti species. The modification causes the offspring of these males to die quickly.

Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Service

  In the Florida Keys, unexpected traffic tie-ups along the Overseas Highway are a regular fact of life. But there's one time of year when it's a deliberate event.

The annual Seven Mile Bridge Run closes the span that links the Middle and Lower Keys for 2 1/2 hours, starting around 6:45 a.m. Saturday. The Monroe County Sheriff's Office warns travelers to be across the bridge by 6:30 a.m.

The bridge re-opens at 9 a.m., but it usually takes more than an hour for traffic flow to get back to normal.

Charles Trainor Jr. / Miami Herald

Ten miles off South Dixie Highway on Card Sound Road, tourists in shiny red convertibles pass commuters in silver and black pickup trucks.

Some are heading to the biker bar Alabama Jack’s — where they serve deep fried conch fritters and cocktails in plastic cups. Other are making their way to the Ocean Reef Club, a beachfront community where golf carts glide past the pastel homes and pristine lawns.

Mark Hedden / For WLRN

  When six yellow-and-blue FA-18 Hornets flew over Duval Street in formation Thursday morning, islanders knew what it meant.

The Blue Angels had arrived.

The U.S. Navy's flight demonstration squadron flew from its home base in Pensacola to Naval Air Station Key West to serve as the star attraction at this weekend's Southernmost Air Spectacular. The show, which will be held  Saturday and Sunday, features an array of military and civilian aircraft performing aerobatic maneuvers and stunts.

Monroe County Public Library

  The Schooner Western Union was built in Key West in the late 1930s as a cable tender — a repair ship for telegraph lines.

Now the 92-foot wooden boat is owned by a nonprofit. Most recently, it's been used for sunset sails and wedding charters.

But it needs repair. And the state of Florida just agreed to spend $500,000 to fix it up.

  The Western Union is the official flagship of the state of Florida (and the city of Key West).

Florida's Coral Getting Help From Hundreds Of Miles Away

Mar 4, 2016
James St. John / Wikimedia Commons

Some coral in the Florida Keys are breeding with coral 1,000 miles away more than they are with coral on the very same reef, according to a new study from the University of Miami.

Keys InfoNet

  

The former CEO of a Keys-based vacation rental investment company has been sentenced to 40 years in federal prison on bank fraud and obstruction charges.

Fred Davis Clark Jr., known as "Dave," 57, was convicted in December of bank fraud, making a false statement to a financial institution  and obstruction of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"We have reason to believe that it was one of the largest frauds in the history of Monroe County," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerrob Duffy.

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