Key Largo, Fla. dive operator joins Sanctuary’s Blue Star coral conservation and education program

September 10, 2014

Media Contact:

Rachel Pawlitz
305-809-4700 x236


Blue Star Program

NOAA’s Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary welcomes Sea Dwellers Dive Center of Key Largo, Fla. as the newest participant in the Sanctuary’s Blue Star education and conservation program.

Since 2009, the Blue Star program has recognized charter companies that make a special commitment to resource conservation by training snorkelers and divers in best practices. The program is designed to avoid damage to reefs from visitors, through education and experience.

Photo of Abyss Dive Center owner receives Blue Star decal.

Sanctuary Education Specialist LTjg Carmen (Mica) Alex (left) presents the Blue Star boat decal to Sea Dwellers Dive Center owner Rob Haff. Sea Dwellers Dive Center is located in Key Largo, Fla. and educates divers and snorkelers visiting the reefs of the upper Florida Keys.

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“We applaud Sea Dwellers’ willingness to help sustain healthy coral reefs,” said Sanctuary Superintendent Sean Morton. “They make a significant difference when they educate many of the hundreds of thousands of annual snorkelers and divers that visit the sanctuary’s waters.”

Home to the third-largest living barrier coral reef in the world, the sanctuary’s protected waters contribute an estimated $2 billion in annual tourist revenue. The reef’s close proximity to land and an abundance of boat operators in the Keys make it easily accessible to both novice snorkelers and seasoned divers.

To become Blue Star certified, operators attend annual training on issues affecting coral reefs, sanctuary regulations and coral reef etiquette. In turn, Blue Star operators educate their customers by incorporating the information into certification classes and dive briefings. They also must offer conservation-related dive courses and participate in activities such as fish counts and reef clean-ups. Operators are re-evaluated every year.

Visit for more information on the program and a list of recognized operators.

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, find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join NOAA on Facebook , Twitter and our other social media channels.