New Shade Stucture

The cement pad in front of the classroom/dry lab once again has a shade structure! It will be a much-needed place to work on vessels and vehicles, out of the sun and also an area of shade for our visiting groups to utilize.

It all started with a pile of pipes and boxes of screws on the concrete pad.

One half done, tackling the second set of arches

Bill and Dave have worked pretty much non-stop since the delivery of the base plates. Several of the FWRI Marathon office crew came up to give us a hand for 2 days and that was a huge help - Thanks Bryan, Chris and Nick!

Winter plowing duties at KML

Well it's winter again in the Florida Keys, heralded by those cold fronts and north winds. Dealing with all of the rack accumulation in the marina, at the boat ramp, and the lagoon around our seawater intake is a constant headache.
But Dave and Bill were not to be thwarted! Engineering a Keys version of a marine plow and harnessing the muscle of our little 13' Boston Whaler, they guys pushed loads of rack and weed back out into the Bay. Frustrated snowplow operators?!?

We are happy to report that in spite of the frequent rack accumulation in the Lagoon by the Wet Lab this time of year, the water quality continues to be excellent for our seawater system.

New dock lights and fresh pearock

Installation of 23 new dock bollards has recently been completed along KML's brand new concrete seawall. Each bollard has a low-voltage top light controlled by a photo-cell, providing ample lighting along the docks throughout the night. Spaced conveniently along the seawall, several of the bollards also have running fresh water for rinsing boats and power outlets (20 amp and 30 amp).View of bollards along the dock in the marina

View from the boat ramp along the north wall of the marina

Dock bollards looking north along the lagoon seawall

New dock bollards along the Lagoon seawall

Another important project at the Lab this Fall was finally grading off and spreading truckloads of fill and gravel to dress up the areas along the seawall and around the wet lab and Shallows. With the area freshly graded and new pea rock spread around the new Lagoon Gear Wash-down gazebo, looking towards the Wet Lab Pavilion

Freshly spread pearock along The Shallows

Comments (1)

KML's Sea Water Tanks

KML's newly-renovated seawater tank farm is once again ready for education groups and researchers! Coarsely filtered seawater is drawn from the lagoon in front of the wetlab seawall... ...into a holding pond (formerly Shallows 4). Seawater is pulled from the holding pond to fill our various tanks. Over-flow from the holding pond runs directly to the large 220,000 gallon capacity Shallows (formerly Shallows 5) which has an average depth of 32".

We monitor water quality (temp, DO, salinity) daily from 4 locations around the lab: our marina basin, near-shore Florida Bay off our outer seawall, the lagoon near our intake point, and the Shallows. Dissolved oxygen readings in the Shallows have been consistently between 60% and 85% throughout the winter, in spite of dense mats of rack along the seawall.

Phase I of KML's seawater system offers a variety of tanks and wet tables with water flow rates ranging from 300 gal. per hr. to 600 gal. per hr. Water levels in the tanks and tables can be adjusted by variable stand-pipes.

Tanks and tables under lattice shade structure:

A total of 6 wet tables (23"W x 6'L) - 3 outside and 3 under the Wet Lab Pavilion, maximum water depth 8", approx. 60 gal. capacity; ideal for smaller specimens and student group observations

A total of 6 fiberglass tanks (foreground, 26"W x 4'L), maximum water depth 12"; approx. 75 gal. capacity
Two 6' diam. round fiberglass tanks (upper left), maximum water depth 24"; approx. 350 gal capacity
One 8' diam. round fiberglass tank (upper right), maximum water depth 36"; approx. 1100 gal. capacity

4 black livestock tanks (3'W x 5'L), maximum water depth 18"; approx. 1300 gal. capacity
Two 8' diam round tanks, maximum water depth 18", approx. 530 gal. capacity

Tanks exposed to full sunlight:

1 fiberglass raceway (8' long x 21" wide), maximum water depth 12", approx. 120 gal. capacity
4 fiberglass raceways (12' long x 21" wide), maximum water depth 12"; approx. 160 gal. capacity

We anticipate continuing to expand our seawater system to meet the needs of our visitors.


KML's Wet Lab Pavilion is ready to go!

KML staff have continued to work hard throughout the winter on our seawater system and open-air wet lab. We have 2 banks of acrylic aquariums set up inside the wetlab pavilion and plumbed for seawater.
One bank of twelve 15-gal. aquariums (12"W x 24"L x 12" deep) are individually plumbed. These aquariums have the option of using an in-line filtration system which passes through a series of two 20" filter housings. Filter cartridges are available from 50 microns down to 0.35 microns. The second bank of acrylic aquariums are plumbed as 3 flow-through unfiltered seawater systems. The top tier has eleven 2-gal tanks (8" x 8" x 8") and eight 10-gal. tanks (12"W x 15"L x 12" deep). The bottom tier consists of eight 15-gal. (12"W x 24"L x 12" deep) tanks. We have three 75-gal. seawater tables (23"W x 6'3"L x 12" deep) under the wet lab pavilion. Water levels in the tables can be controlled by stand-pipes. Work benches will be set up along the walls to accommodate a variety of separate aquariums and any other necessary equipment. Plenty of open floor space around the tables will accommodate students. Fresh-water sinks (no chemicals down the drains please!) and wash-down hoses are conveniently located around the wetlab.
And if that's not enough, you just can't beat the view from the wet lab and our new sea wall! Sunsets here are spectacular looking out over Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Seawater is once again flowing at KML!

But first a brief glimpse behind the scenes these last 4 months:
As another hurricane season drew to an end, the beginnings of the new seawater system unfolded and we could finally focus on the task at hand.
October 2008 behind the KML wetlab
November 2008:
Laying drain pipes, setting up and leveling a variety of tanks and wet tables and plumbing them to the drain.
The pipes had to be carefully covered with dirt - 1 wheel barrow load at a time
Mike and Bill carefully selected and moved large tanks into position with equipment on-hand
A new view of the outer wet lab under the shade lattice with more tanks in place
Old Shallows 4 had to be cleaned out, repaired, sealed, and painted with a special epoxy paint to prepare it for our new seawater holding pond
Bill is the master-mind behind the building of the seawater intake system - affectionately called "the octopus" (well, it really has only 6 legs but it is a very impressive tangle of PVC!) Seawater was actually pumping into Shallows 4 by Christmas!
Three 3-hp Jacuzzi pumps draw water from the lagoon in front of the wetlab through a common uptake manifold to 3" outflow pipes over the 1000 gal settling tank in Shallows 4
Three smaller 3/4-hp Jacuzzi pumps send seawater from Shallows 4 to the various tanks
Seawater lines plumbed to the tanks - Bill had seawater running to the first 10 tanks New Years Eve 2008!! More tanks will soon be on-line and ready to fill.
Cleaning old Shallows 5 took a solid week, with help from several of the Marathon Lab staff. Three years of post-Wilma muck and debris had to be shoveled out. Major cracks were patched, old marcite chipped away and removed. A 2" trash pump sucked out the last of the sludge from the pit.
January 16, 2009 we had water running through the entire system... ....overflowing into the large Shallows (formerly Shallows 5).

A variety of odd critters have already made it their home!

A new boat at the KML dock

Happy New Year at KML! We are excited to announce the newest boat in our fleet, the R/V Diodon (Yes, the spiny puffer fish!).
This 30' Island Hopper, powered by twin Yamaha 4-stroke 250 hp engines, will carry up to 23 snorkelers comfortably to all of the various marine habitats around the Middle Keys.

Thus far, we have taken her on a 24 mile run to East Cape Sable to assist our SEAKEYS staff in tending their northwest Florida Bay C-man station.


New dive gear washdown area

Fall has been a busy time at KML, both on and off the water. New and returning researchers have been on-site conducting their studies and have been very excited at the progress of the rebuilding projects. We have housed several classes in our dorms and taken visiting groups out to explore the nearby marine habitats.

Divers and snorkelers can now enjoy the use of our new gear wash-down area at the end of a day on the water. We have 2 large tubs for wet-suits and dive BC's and fins. In addition, there are now 3 smaller tubs designated just for regulators, masks and snorkels, and camera equipment. Fresh-water showers are also available for a quick rinse-off.

Future plans include a second wash-down area to be constructed out near our wet lab.

Introducing the 2008 KML staff

L to R: Lisa, Heddy, Bill, Dave, Cindy, Mike

Lisa Tipsword - operations manager
Heddy MacBain - office assistant (keeps us all in line)
Dave Norman & Bill Ferrell - marine and technical support (the guys who keep KML running!)
Cindy Lewis & Mike McCallister - marine biologists

Our Marina Dorm is open again!

KML has weathered Hurricanes Fay and Gustav so far this year. Fay caused a mandatory evacuation for a few days days. Rain and wind (30-45 knots here on Long Key) were a minor inconvenience as Gustav passed. Now we're all watching the approach of Hanna, Ike, and Josephine!

In spite of all that, reconstruction at the Lab has continued and our Marina Dorm is once again open for use. Check out the substantial new stairway and deck over-looking the marina basin!
Each building is being carefully power-washed and painted for a fresh new look - KML Green with Cream trim, blending subtlety with the palms and mangroves along the water's edge.

KML Marina is Open!

The long-awaited marina at KML is operational! Our boat ramp is officially open for use. Be sure to check with our Operations Manager and Staff for access and use guidelines.

We are docking KML boats on site once again. Many thanks to our Layton neighbors for offering us courtesy dock space at Zane Grey Marina across the street while the marina project was under way.

In the coming weeks we will be adding additional mooring spots along the new seawall as well as power and wash-down stations.

Thank you to all of our KML guests for your patience during our re-building efforts.

Mangrove mitigation is completed

During the construction of our new seawall, some of the white mangroves had to be removed in order to allow the large cranes and backhoes access to the marina area. Mangrove mitigation required KML to re-plant mangroves once the the seawall was completed. After a bit of research into the best planting methods to ensure survival, we contacted Sue Nulman at "Keys Mangroves" to purchase our red mangrove seedlings. Our first site was in a mucky inter-tidal area along the shoreline behind the new rip-rap. We set seven 24" seedings directly into the muck.
Site 1 at low tide
Site 1 at high tide

The second site at KML's Mangrove Point (the entrance to our marina) was mostly rubble and rock so we used terracotta strawberry pots lined with burlap to hold the soil around the mangrove seedlings. The 6 pots were partially buried among the rubble behind the new rip-rap. The pots should decay in a few years as the mangrove root system becomes established.

Site 2 at low tide
Site 2 at high tide

We will be monitoring our our new red mangrove seedlings at both sites in the coming months and anticipate adding more mangroves and other native plantings to the landscape.

AmeriCorps Badgers Busy at KML

AmeriCorps NCCC's "Badger 3" team donated 3 days of intensive labor at Keys Marine Lab. Eleven hard-working youths from across the US worked along side KML staff to trim palm trees, power-wash the marina building, pick up construction debris, clean out sheds, and help organize displays in the office and classroom.

On their 'day off', they volunteered to clean cages and walk dogs at the local animal shelters in Marathon and Big Pine.

Thanks to their tireless efforts, KML looks a lot brighter and neater. Their enthusiastic team-work were rewarded by a great afternoon of snorkeling at East Turtle Shoals off KML boats.

Classroom and Dry Lab ready for action!

Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, KML is emerging from the rubble and debris of Hurricane Wilma's destruction. The building that housed the classroom, dry lab, and computer lab is finished!

Boasting new AC, electrical and plumbing throughout the building, a peek inside reveals a fresh look to cabinetry, counter tops, and workspace. Several groups have already taken advantage of the newly remodeled space.

Research Lab II is refurbished for our visiting scientists and the wet table will be plumbed once our new seawater system is functioning.

Our computer lab boasts a
spectacular view of Florida Bay. Two computers, printers, and DSL access are available for our visitors.

Sea wall |||amp; marina project is taking shape

The beautiful new sea wall at KML is really shaping up. This massive project began last fall with construction crews working long hours, often 6 days a week. The marina has been dredged and the big cranes and backhoes are gone now that the metal retaining wall is set, the pilings are in, and the boulders of rip-rap are in place.

Our new boat ramp is slowly materializing as concrete forms are pulled away. Quite a bit of work remains before the ramp and marina is usable.

The cement seawall cap is poured from the east end of KML, past the old observation deck and wet lab, and out to the old pump house. Progress has been slow but steady.

See Older Posts...