Cristal Clear Charters earns sanctuary Blue Star certification

August 20, 2015

Media Contact:

Rachel Pawlitz
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Blue Star Program

NOAA’s Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary welcomes Cristal Clear Charters of Key Largo, Florida as the newest participant in the sanctuary’s Blue Star education and conservation program.

The sanctuary’s Blue Star program recognizes charter companies that commit to training snorkelers and divers in low impact practices. Research on the Blue Star program, which has been in place since 2009, shows that education helps prevent damaging contact with corals and other marine life.

Dive shop staff display Blue Star decal. Cristal Clear Charter owner Leslie Adams (far left) displays the shop's new Blue Star decal, alongside the shop's crew and long-time head manager Jesus Gudino (far right).  Click for high-resolution version.

“We’re very excited to formally recognize Cristal Clear Charters’ commitment to conservation with our ‘Blue Star’ certification,” said Sean Morton, sanctuary superintendent. “The diver and snorkeler education that our Blue Star partners provide is crucial for protecting the sanctuary’s reefs.”

Cristal Clear Charters has a history of working with conservation groups, including the Ocean Reef Conservation Association and Coral Restoration Foundation Adopt-a-Coral program, which supports cultivation of corals that are transplanted onto degraded natural reefs to aid in their recovery. The delicate transplant work is done through a specially-issued sanctuary permit that allows approved species of living corals to be attached to the seafloor.

The sanctuary is home to the third-largest living barrier coral reef in the world and is visited by thousands of snorkelers and divers each year, generating an estimated $2 billion in annual ocean-based tourism revenue. The reef’s close proximity to land and an abundance of charter boats in the Keys make it easily accessible to both novice snorkelers and seasoned divers.

Charter operators earn Blue Star certification by attending annual training on issues affecting coral reefs, sanctuary regulations and coral reef etiquette and incorporating this information into certification classes and dive briefings for their customers. They also must offer conservation-related dive courses and participate in activities such as fish counts and reef clean-ups. Operators are re-evaluated on an annual basis.

To learn more about the program and see a list of recognized operators, visit:

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.