Florida Keys Charter

2020 has turned out to be a very challenging year for all of us. Normally, the WDP field season begins in early May. Like the rest of the country, our schedule was interrupted and then adjusted due to the COVID pandemic. As both the US and the Bahamas remained in lockdown, we cancelled two trips set to start in May. Since the Bahamas remained closed into early June, we decided to do a field trip within the US. The Florida Keys had just opened up to land visitors and we were clear to boat down to the Keys as well. With our long-term Board member Ruth Petzold and her guests onboard, we motored down to the Florida Keys. Weather was still a bit vicious in early June so it took us a couple days to even get to the upper Keys, due to local and intense lightning storms. But, finally arriving off Key Largo we were glad we made it. The reefs along the Keys, especially the protected National Marine Sanctuary, are still in good shape. Over the days we explored various reefs, both inshore and near the offshore edge, including Molasses Reef, Grecian Reef, and of course the famous underwater Christ of the Abyss statue.

Green turtles often came to the reef right before sunset to hang out, allowing us a glimpse of their underwater life. Everyone onboard seems glad to just be out doing something, after our long stretch of lockdown at home. And what better place to hang out then on a boat in the Florida Keys. We look forward to exploring this area more in the future, both to enjoy the natural wonders, but also to look for dolphins and do our Florida identification work.

Dr. Denise Herzing

Research Director, WDP

Photo: Liah McPherson

Photo: Ruth Pezold

Photo: Ruth Petzold