Florida Keys

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

There are a lot of endangered species in South Florida — and especially in the Florida Keys. Dozens of volunteers recently gathered recently to help build new homes for one of those species.

Miami Herald

A relatively small Keys-based water utility is objecting to expansion plans by mainland giant Florida Power & Light.

Deputy John Allen, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office

A group of nine Cuban migrants arrived on Grassy Key, at mile marker 57.6 of the Florida Keys, around 2:20 a.m.  Tuesday after a 10-day journey from the island, according to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. 

Authorities indicated that the group was traveling in a boat that was found later behind the Rainbow Bend Resort.  

All the migrants were turned over to agents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 

Officials plan to release lab-reared, bacteria-infected mosquitoes in the Florida Keys in March.


Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Bureau via AP

Former President Jimmy Carter; his wife, Rosalynn; and about 40 other family members have helped release a rehabilitated loggerhead sea turtle off the Florida Keys.

"Salty" was released after the Carters, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren toured The Turtle Hospital. The facility opened in 1986 and has treated and released more than 2,000 injured sea turtles.

Researchers say a widespread disease outbreak continues to afflict corals off the Upper Florida Keys.


U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

It appears the endangered Key deer are winning the battle against the deadly screwworm fly.

But U.S. Fish & Wildlife officials are taking no chances as the deer head into fawning season, when the does and fawns will be especially vulnerable. Screwworm flies lay their eggs in the open wounds of warm-blooded animals. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the living flesh of the host.

Diane Borden-Billiot / U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

A Key deer was euthanized this week after it was found to be infested with screwworm. That's the bad news.

The good news is that it had been almost a month since the previous death, Nov. 14. That means the loss of the endangered species has slowed way down since the outbreak was confirmed in late September.

A total of 133 Key deer have died from the screwworms. Screwworm flies lay their eggs in the open wounds of warm blooded animals. When the eggs hatch, the larvae consume the living flesh of the host.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Florida Keys Community College established a mariculture program six years ago, after the movie "Finding Nemo" created a craze for clownfish like the title character.

But it wasn't until Mick Walsh arrived three years ago to head up the college's marine environmental technology department that the program took off.

"When I got here, we had eight pairs of parent fish and that was it," Walsh said. "And now we have eight pairs of parent fish and hundreds, hundreds of baby clownfish and many more that have also been adopted out to community members and students."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Most voters in the Florida Keys said in a Nov. 8 referendum that they were in favor of releasing genetically modified mosquitoes in the Keys.

Monroe County Sheriff's Office

A backhoe joyride on the Seven Mile Bridge last winter that tied up traffic in the Florida Keys and caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage has ended in state prison.

Carl Blahnik, 60, was sentenced this week to 30 months in state prison. He also has to pay more than $43,000 in restitution for damage to the bridge and the backhoe.

In the Florida Keys on Election Day, along with the presidential race, one of the most controversial items on the ballot dealt with Zika. In a nonbinding vote countywide, residents in the Florida Keys approved a measure allowing a British company to begin a trial release of genetically modified mosquitoes. Armed with that approval, local officials voted Saturday to try out what they hope will be a new tool in the fight against Zika.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

People in the Keys have been living alongside Key deer for a long time. And for ages, wildlife officials have implored people: Don't feed the deer.

But now the deer are in trouble, and breaking the old rules is part of the solution.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

An argument that has been taking place in Mosquito Control board meetings, hotel conference rooms and Facebook comment strings finally moved to the ballot box on Tuesday.

With most of the vote in (32 of 33 precincts) the GMO mosquito question had split results.

In Key Haven where the test would take place, it's a resounding no - 65 to 35 percent. But the rest of the county said yes - 58 to 42 percent. 

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