A Lobster's Point of View: Life in the Florida Keys

KML will host the 3rd in a series of Science Seminars in the KML classroom at 6:30pm Tuesday February 21st. Fish & Wildlife Research Institute's marine biologist, Tom Matthews, will give a 20-30 minute talk on Florida's spiny lobsters and how they "see" their world under the waves here in the Keys. There will be opportunity to ask Tom questions following the talk. Seating is limited so call the office to reserve a spot.

Welcome Trevor, new KML staff scientist

Trevor Luna joined the KML team as a Biological Scientist for FWC/FWRI in December of 2011. He graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Biology from Rollins College in Winter Park, FL before moving to Zambia, Africa to serve in the U.S. Peace Corps. There he worked with the Zambian Department of Livestock and Fisheries as an Aquaculture Extension Agent promoting rural Tilapia culture. Trevor is an avid boater, diver, fisherman and hunter. The KML team is very excited to have Trevor on board. Welcome Trevor!


Visit to the Tennessee ROA

KML science staff, diving under their Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary permit, checked on things in the Tennessee Research Only Area (ROA). Located 2 miles east of the Tennessee Reef Light, this small 0.2 acre Special Use Area was designated as one of the "no entry" zones by the Sanctuary, to be used as an undisturbed reference area.

The habitat within the ROA is characterized by low-relief contiguous reef, with areas of bare sand bottom, ranging from 12' to 35' depth. Divers floated past large barrel sponges and massive ancient coral heads

There were several long-spined urchins (Diadema antillarum) tucked away, with plenty of macro-algae to feed on. A big Goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara) followed divers around the reef.

A brilliant green moray eel (Gymnothorax funebris) was sitting out in plain view (or trying to blend in with the algae!), watching the show.

And it seems that no dive would be complete these days without encountering at least 1 invasive exotic lionfish (Pterois volitans). KML and FWC staff are specially permitted by the Sanctuary to capture and remove lionfish within all Special Use Areas, including Special Preservation Areas, ROAs, and Ecological Reserves. Staff scientist Andrew Crowder used a pair of hand nets to capture this lionfish near a large coral head.

Staff scientist, Cindy Lewis displays the 4 lionfish captured during the day of diving in the Tennessee ROA. The lionfish will be used in a feeding trial at KML.

The rest of the KML fleet

R/V MolaMola
25' Parker, center console, modified-V hull
powered by 225hp Yamaha 4-stroke engine
large dive platform and sturdy dive ladder
capacity: 2200 lb or 11 passengers plus a captain

R/V NariNari
18' Parker center console,
powered by 175hp Yamaha 4-stroke engine
capacity: 1800 lb. or 5 passengers plus staff captain
Also available for use by KML scientists without staff captain on board. Inquire about requirements for our boat rental policy

13' Boston Whaler
capacity: 300 lbs or 2 people
powered by an electric start 25hp 4-stroke Mercury
For use near the lab (Long Key and nearshore waters) by KML scientists without staff captain on board


R/V Tiburo is back on the water

KML's R/V Tiburo has a new look these days. This grand old 24' T-Craft has been renovated, reconditioned, and is ready for trips back into Florida Bay. Powered by a 175hp Yahmaha engine, she has 1200 lb maximum capacity or 8 passengers plus a captain. "Tib" offers plenty of open deck space for portable live-wells and gear.


SEAKEYS Monitoring Program at KML

By Jon Fajans, SEAKEYS Program Manager & Andrew Crowder, SEAKEYS Research Assistant

SEAKEYS, which stands for Sustained Ecological Research Related to the Management of the Florida Keys Seascape, is a research framework for scientists organized by the Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) in 1989, with funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Keys Marine Lab provides the SEAKEYS program a base for its operations. As part of SEAKEYS, FIO, in cooperation with the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC), established six enhanced Coastal Marine Automated Network (C-MAN) environmental monitoring stations. The program is now sustained annually through grants from NOAA and the EPA.

Renovated SEAKEYS building at KML (formerly the Conch Lab)

The SEAKEYS C-Man stations, located throughout the Florida Keys and the Bay, provide a wealth of oceanographic and weather data used by marine ecosystem managers and scientists conducting research. Scientists investigating topics like coral bleaching and algae blooms are not the only people that depend upon the real-time data provided by the oceanographic stations. Boaters, anglers, and divers, including commercial operators, also take advantage of being able to check the wind speed and direction on the internet before they leave the dock.

C-man station LONF1 Florida Bay north of Long Key

The SEAKEYS network encompasses the geographic scale of the Florida Keys and the Dry Tortugas. The data is transmitted hourly via a Geo-stationary Orbiting Environmental Satellite (GOES) providing near real-time environmental baseline data for researchers, resource managers, and the public. These stations record hourly wind speed, wind direction, air temperature, barometric pressure, sea temperature, salinity, and terrestrial solar irradiance. These data are available on the web at the following sites: http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/maps/Florida.shtml and http://www.coral.noaa.gov/seakeys/real_data.shtml.

A seventh monitoring station, a cooperative effort between FIO and the University of South Florida's Coastal Oceanographic Monitoring Program (USF/COMPS), is located in Northwest Florida Bay. This site has been down since hurricanes Katrina and Wilma destroyed the monitoring equipment and is expected to be back online fall 2008. Upon completion this data will also be available by visiting:http://comps1.marine.usf.edu/nfb/index.shtml or one of the websites listed above.

In addition to the rebuilding of the station in Florida Bay, this year the SEAKEYS Program began upgrading all of their stations throughout the Keys to process at a high data rate to accommodate a new suite of sensors that will greatly enhance the data. The oceanographic sensors that will be at all seven monitoring stations are a Falmouth Scientific NXIC-CT sensor, that measures water conductivity, temperature, salinity, and can power up to five other sensors, a Biospherical PAR sensor, which will show the amount of biologically productive light reaching the water that is important for coral growth, and a Falmouth Scientific 1-D wave sensor, that will give tide information and wave heights. Also, there will be Solar Light underwater UVB sensors at Fowey Rocks (FWYF1), Molasses Reef (MLRF1), Sombrero Reef (SMKF1), Sand Key (SANF1), and Pulaski Shoal (PLSF1) which will cover the entire Sanctuary reef tract. UVB rays from the sun are important for photosynthesis in the symbiotic algae found in coral tissues. MLRF1 will also get CO2 and pH sensors for a closer look at the impacts of global climate change on the reefs of the Florida Keys.

In the near future SEAKEYS will also be adding their first buoy creating an eighth station off of Carysfort Reef thanks to a generous contribution from the Ocean Reef Foundation. This station (CRYF1) is a YSI buoy that is over ten feet tall and will be replacing one of the corner buoys of the Sanctuary Protected Area (SPA) at Carysfort Reef near the Gulf Stream. Along with the standard oceanographic and meteorological data that the other SEAKEYS stations provide, the buoy will be equipped with a new Falmouth Scientific 3-D wave sensor that will not only give wave height and direction, but current direction and speed also. In addition, this sensor will provide water clarity readings which will be helpful to the anglers and divers of the Upper Keys. The SEAKEYS staff hopes that this cutting edge science will be well received by the public, which may lead to funding opportunities that would allow them to apply this technology to other locations throughout the Keys, such as deep water wrecks for added dive safety.

For more information about this program visit: http://www.keysmarinelab.org/seakeys.htm

Or contact the program manager at: jsfajans@keysmarinelab.org


Keys Marine Lab apparrel

At long last we have KML shirts and hats available!

White Gildan 100% cotton short sleeved t-shirts with the official KML logo on the front and a stylized map of the Florida Keys on the back, sizes small, medium, large, and extra-large. The tan 100% cotton hats have an adjustable strap.

Either shirts or hats may be had for a suggested donation to KML of $15. Check it out the next time you stop by the Lab.

All KML apparel is also available online through the Wildlife Foundation of Florida

reef ball mangroves at KML

Mangrove Solutions Division:
Dr. Catherine Jadot - president
Ben Chisholm - project coordinator

We are exploring yet another technique for planting mangroves out beyond the protection of the rip-rap. The Mangroves Solution Division is using KML as a beta test site here in the Keys.

The project:
To stabilize the seedlings (propagules) in the ocean, one proven method uses split encasement tubes driven into the sediment. This method protects against the wrack line, however, it doesn't alone promote the optimal growth of the seedling. A solution combining this wrack protection and Reef Ball technology has been developed to ensure the fastest, healthiest, and most protected growth of the mangrove tree. This solution is ideal for numerous applications including erosion efforts, enhancing aesthetical aspects of property and fertilizer runoff filtration.

Anchoring in high energy areas:
Suitable anchoring of the propagule is a common problem encountered. The Reef Ball Mangrove Planting Solution provides a steel anchor allowing a durable mooring.
Foundation Protection - Armored Cultivator Pot:
The concrete base of the device allows the propagule & roots to be protected from submerged debris. Available in a bio-degradable version, the solution has the ability to “wash away” as the mangrove matures and no longer needs assistance, leaving only a self sufficient, beautiful mangrove.
Wrack Protection - split PVC pipe:
Armored Cultivator Pot's stems will be shielded from waves, floating debris, wind, upland runoff, predation and UV, avoiding the troubles that most often cause plant failures in high energy zones
Enriched environment - fertilizer disk:
The Reef Ball Solution includes slow release fertilizer nutrients to optimize mangrove growth.

Putting it all together:
Mangrove propagules from the mangroves already on site were collected. The metal anchors were pounded into the hardbottom. The PVC wrack protectors were pounded over the stake. The armored cultivator pots were packed with peat and the bottom "sealed" with a fertilizer disk, then slid over the PVC pipe and stomped firmly into the muck on the bottom. The PVC pipes were filled with more peat to the mean high tide level and a propagule was dropped into the tube.

12 new mangroves planted at KML!
We will be watching for them to poke their noses out of the rack protectors in the next couple months as the reach for they sun.

mangroves in armored pots at low tide

Show your colors at KML

We are encouraging all KML visitors to bring along a school pennant or small banner to help decorate our newly-remodeled classroom. Feel free to sign and date them so other visitors can see who has been here.

KML is thinking Green

As guardians of our fragile ecosystem, the Keys Marine Lab is committed to making this facility Green Friendly. KML staff is requesting your assistance in the effort to "Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle". New recycle bins have been placed in each dorm and around the grounds for your convenience.
While staying on site, we are asking our guests to make the effort to separate all discarded glass, aluminum cans, and plastics into the appropriate bins.

KML’s on-site Recycling Center, located within the dumpster area, is the central collection area for all your recyclables at the end of your stay. Plastic bags and Styrofoam egg cartons can be recycled at Publix and Winndixie grocery stores in marked containers at the front entrance.

“Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle”

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