Florida Keys

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Self-medicating stations meant to protect the endangered Key deer from screwworm have already been removed and federal wildlife managers plan to stop medicating entirely on April 10 — assuming no new cases of the deadly parasite are found.

Screwworm was first confirmed in the Keys Sept. 30 and killed 135 Key deer, an endangered species that lives nowhere else in the world. Before the outbreak, the population was estimated at 800 to 1,000 animals.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Art in Islamorada tends to focus on the subjects you might expect from a Florida Keys village that bills itself as "the sportfishing capital of the world." Popular subjects include the game fish that people pay thousands to pursue in Florida Bay and the deep Atlantic, as well as the palm trees and subtropical sunsets.

Florida Keys Brewing Company

Florida Keys Brewing Company fans, don't fret. You can still order the local brewer's popular Hogfish Amber. But because of threatened legal action by a well-known Delaware brewer, ask for a Spearfish Amber instead.

Local owners Craig and Cheryl McBay said they received an email late last year from the owners of Dogfish Head Brewery that threatened legal action if the name of the Keys Brewing beer wasn't changed.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Almost six months after the New World screwworm outbreak was identified in the Florida Keys, the state Department of Agriculture announced the lifting the animal quarantine in Monroe County. The checkpoint in Key Largo for animals leaving the Keys closed as of 7 p.m. Saturday.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Over the last 16 years, the vast majority of community colleges in Florida have expanded to become state colleges. That's so they can offer four-year degrees, not just the two-year associate degrees.

Now Florida lawmakers are considering a bill that limits those expansions. And that move comes just as the smallest college in the state system, Florida Keys Community College, is taking its first steps toward offering four-year degrees.

Mariela Care / Florida Keys News Service

The Turtle Hospital in Marathon released a 330-pound green sea turtle back to the sea off the Keys Friday, just in time for nesting season.

The turtle was found entangled in multiple crab trap lines in February off Marathon. A veterinary team partially amputated her right, rear flipper.

As is the Turtle Hospital's custom, she was nicknamed by her rescuers, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officers Jeff Carroll and Olly Adams. They named her Jolly.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

For decades, height limits have been a third rail in development discussions in the Florida Keys — nobody wanted to go near them. But more frequent flooding, the prospect of sea level rise and higher insurance rates are all leading to one conclusion in the low-lying island chain — build up.

Key West voters agreed to raise height limits on the island by up to 4 feet back in 2014. Now Monroe County is considering a similar measure. That would apply in unincorporated parts of the county, like Key Largo and the Lower Keys.

Wildlife Officials: Screwworm Infestation Declining In Keys

Mar 7, 2017

Wildlife officials say a screwworm infestation in the Florida Keys seems to be declining, which is good news for a unique deer herd threatened by the flesh-eating parasites.


Rob O'Neal / Florida Keys News Service

While tourism industry groups from around the country are warning of a drop in international visitors because of President Donald Trump's immigration policies and rhetoric, the head of the Keys tourism agency said he's hearing of a different cause.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Florida has not had any locally transmitted cases of Zika so far in 2017. And the number of travel-related cases has fallen drastically in the dry season.

But tests of new mosquito-fighting methods are still moving forward in the Florida Keys.

The first U.S. trial of genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes — the kind that carries Zika and dengue fever — is still on track for the Keys, just not on Key Haven. That's the island that Oxitec, the company that makes the genetically modified mosquito, chose for its test site.

Courtesy Kelly Clark / National Park Service

Seventy miles west of Key West, a group of islands forms the Dry Tortugas. Those islands, and the waters surrounding them, are at the center of a national park with spectacular coral reefs. But the park is best known for its biggest structure.

Monroe County Marine Resources

In the Florida Keys, land is at a premium. But there's plenty of water — which means in recent years the area has seen an increase in the number of floating structures.

That's defined in state law as something that floats but is not a means of transportation, like a boat. Floating structures are used as homes, restaurants — and recently in the Keys, for a playground and an advertisement for helicopter tours.

Christine Ogura / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Thirty female Key deer are now wearing radio collars so biologists can track them during fawning season.

The deer will be watched closely because does and newborn fawns are especially vulnerable to screwworm. The parasite has killed 135 of the endangered animals so far. The herd was estimated at 800 to 1,000 animals before the outbreak.

Screwworm flies lay their eggs in open wounds on warm-blooded animals. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the living flesh of the host.

NOAA Fisheries

Authorities say 81 false killer whales died this weekend in the southwest Everglades after their pod became stranded in shallow water.

 

Blair Mase of the National Marine Fisheries Service said on Monday that officials are investigating why the pod swam into shallow waters near Hog Key, southeast of Everglades City. Mase said rescuers had to travel about an hour by boat to the animals, and struggled to herd them into deeper water.

 

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