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Press Releases

December 7, 2005

Cheva Heck, Florida Keys
National Marine Sanctuary
(305) 292-0311, Ext, 26
(305) 304-0197 (cell)


This winter, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary will offer residents of the Keys a chance to explore the sanctuary without donning a wetsuit, and get a behind the scenes look at the challenges of managing a complex coral reef ecosystem. The sanctuary, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is offering a noncredit course at the Florida Keys Community College (FKCC) that will include guest speakers, including local scientists and sanctuary staff addressing topics such as Queen Conch restoration efforts, shipwreck management, coral disease and Everglades restoration. The class culminates with a trip to the coral reef to conduct plankton and water sampling.

"This new course will offer Florida Keys residents an opportunity to learn more about the ocean that surrounds them and efforts underway to protect its natural and cultural resources," said Sera Harold, sanctuary education specialist. "Our goal is to offer an interesting and thought provoking series of lectures that further our partnership with the community to sustain our coral reef ecosystem."

The class will meet on Tuesdays from 10:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. at FKCC's Key West campus, 5901 College Road. Sessions begin January 31st, 2006, and run through March 7th, 2006, with the date for the field trip to be determined. The cost for the class is $35, which is the lab fee for the field trip. To register, call the college at 305.809.3280. For more information about the class, contact Sera Harold at 305.292.0311, or

The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects 2,896 square nautical miles of critical marine habitat, including coral reef, hard bottom, seagrass meadows, mangrove communities and sand flats. NOAA and the state of Florida manage the sanctuary. For more information, visit

The NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program seeks to increase the public awareness of America's maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. The National Marine Sanctuary Program manages 13 national marine sanctuaries and one coral reef ecosystem reserve that together encompass more than 150,000 square miles of America's ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.

The NOAA Ocean Service, which manages the National Marine Sanctuary Program, is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation's coasts and oceans. The National Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with our federal partners and nearly 60 countries to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.

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