Florida Keys sanctuary welcomes 15th “Blue Star” dive operator
(DiverWire) NOAA’s Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary welcomes Quiescence Diving Services, Inc. of Key Largo as the newest participant in the sanctuary’s Blue Star education and conservation program. Quiescence is the 15th operator in the Florida Keys to earn this recognition.
Launched in 2009, Blue Star salutes charter companies that help protect the Florida Keys coral reef ecosystem by promoting responsible snorkeling and diving practices, and educating their patrons on the role humans play in reef health. Unlike some of the more global causes of reef decline – such as climate change – damage to reefs from snorkeling and diving is considered easily preventable through education and experience.
“We applaud Quiescence for their commitment to conservation and education,” said Sean Morton, sanctuary superintendent. “Quiescence has a long history of working with the sanctuary and marine science community and this company is a fantastic addition to the program.”
Home to the third-largest living barrier coral reef in the world, the sanctuary’s protected waters contribute an estimated two 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 novice snorkelers and seasoned divers.
Blue Star operators are required to attend training annually 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.
Blue Star is funded in part by a grant from Mote Marine Laboratory’s “Protect Our Reef” grants program. Visit www.sanctuarybluestar.org for more information on the program and a list of recognized operators.
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects 2,900 square nautical miles of 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 or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/floridakeysnoaagov.
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. Visit us at www.noaa.gov and join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.