Festival to Celebrate 25 Years of Spectacular Sanctuary Protection

October 2015

The dream of the nineties is alive in Florida, and it’s turning 25 this year! The upcoming Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary 25th Anniversary Family Fun Festival will celebrate the 1990 designation of this spectacular 2,900 square nautical mile marine protected area.

The free event, presented by NOAA in partnership with the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, will take place Sunday, November 8 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at The Islander Resort, A Guy Harvey Outpost.

Kids show off their catch. The free fishing clinic for children ages 5-12 will teach fishing skills and responsible practices, such as knowing when to throw back an undersized catch.

The family-oriented festivities will feature live animals, touch tanks, and other interactive displays in a “Conservation Village” on the beach at the Islander’s oceanside property located at Mile Marker 82.1 in Islamorada, Florida. There will be live music, a pig roast, and a variety of other food and beverages available for purchase.

From 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., a free children’s fishing clinic will be held at the resort’s pier to teach kids ages 5-12 the basics of casting, tackle, responsible angler practices, knot tying, and safety. There are 80 spots available on a first-come, first served basis. Kids can register the day of the clinic, from 1:00 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. Each child that completes the clinic will receive a free rod and reel courtesy of Islamorada Charter Boat Association's Keys Kids Fishing Derby.

The Florida Keys History and Discovery Center, a new museum located at the Islander’s oceanside property, will offer free admission during the festival. Visitors can check out Sanctuary Reef, a traveling exhibit created by Mote Marine Laboratory to give a shrimp’s eye view of a coral reef that is currently on display at the Center.

Kids can play environmental and fishing games, make shark tooth necklaces and signal flags, watch a demonstration of mooring buoys being anchored, and make buttons. Kids can explore skulls, shells, and guess what's inside of mystery boxes. Those who complete a scavenger hunt will receive a coral reef or fish identification poster.

Displays and informational booths will be hosted by the sanctuary and its partners, including Mote Marine Laboratory, U.S. National Park Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Reef Environmental Education Foundation, Reef Relief, Coral Restoration Foundation, FURY Watersports, Friends of the Islamorada State Parks, Bahia Honda State Park, Dolphins Plus, Keys Marine Lab, Long Key State Park, Seacamp, Turtle Hospital, Windley Key State Park, Marine Lab, Marine Mammal Responders, and Florida Keys Wild Bird Center.

WHAT:       Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary 25th Anniversary Family Fun Festival
WHEN:       November 8, 2015, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
WHERE:     Islander Resort, A Guy Harvey Outpost, oceanside property (MM 82.1) in Islamorada, Florida
WHO:         NOAA’s Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and partners

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects 2,900 square nautical miles of critical marine habitat, including coral reef, hard bottom, sea grass meadows, mangrove communities and sand flats, as well as shipwrecks and maritime heritage resources. NOAA and the state of Florida manage the sanctuary. Visit us at http://floridakeys.noaa.gov, find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.