The Florida Keys ecosystem is delicate and vulnerable, where threats come from all sides: pollution and water flow in Florida Bay; acidification, warming, and disease on the reefs; and intense fishing pressure on lobsters and fish, just to name a few.
In order to assure the continued health of this ecosystem, we first must understand how it works so everyone can enjoy snorkeling with angel fish, rays, and turtles over the coral reefs in the clear, warm waters of the Florida Keys. Others may spend time fishing for bonefish, permit, or tarpon over the flats in Florida Bay, or travel to the Keys for spiny lobster season every year?
Regardless of how people enjoy the marine environment, there is no argument that the waters of the Florida Keys are a pretty fantastic place to spend your time and worth protecting.
Marine scientists have long recognized this and have been working at Keys Marine Laboratory (KML) for years to do just that. However, the Florida Keys is a vast and complicated environment and we are just beginning to understand many important aspects of how the system works. While continued research will unravel the many of its remaining mysteries — for some of the most vulnerable areas of the Keys this knowledge may come too late.