“Our bodies within the sand, tropical drink melting in your hand,/ We’ll be falling in like to the rhythm of a metal drum band,/ Down in Kokomo.”
Released in 1988, this Seashore Boys traditional was caught in my head lengthy earlier than I moved to the Florida Keys to revive the reef. It’s not unlikely that Carl Wilson and Mike Love had spent a sunny afternoon or two having fun with our little slice of paradise, and a few native tall tales declare that the fictional Kokomo actually is a spot within the Keys. (You possibly can inform me, is it actually the outdated Vacation Isle bar, now the Postcard Inn?)
Legendary tiki bar or not, our island chain and its turquoise waters have been charming individuals for many years. Defending these assets grew to become, and stays, paramount to the continued bounty of our oceans and the lives they maintain (wild and human).
The designation of the Florida Keys Nationwide Marine Sanctuary in 1990 tried to coordinate and amplify these efforts. At the moment, Nov. 16, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary turns the big 3-0.
I keep in mind my late 20s, dreading my “soiled 30” birthday, once I would formally be “so outdated.” I assumed my heyday was over, and that I’d spent my luck on Hollywood Boulevard and the L.A. metropolis lights.
After I hit that milestone birthday, I did a tour-de-30 that concerned a tattoo, operating a half-marathon dressed as Pixie from Peter Pan, hang-gliding off a mountain, and quitting my job. You may say I had one thing of a quarter-life-crisis occurring.
Fortunately for me, I used to be naive and fallacious. With some exhausting days, many tears, and too many self-help books and podcasts, I discovered myself rebirthed right here within the Florida Keys, defending our coral reef, living a dream I didn’t know I had. These waters enthralled me as they have so many wayward sailors and motorcyclists who go to the southernmost islands and by no means depart.
Now, on this thirtieth birthday of the sanctuary that bonds us all collectively, I feel the identical mindset shift can apply. Certainly, many fishermen opposed the creation of the sanctuary and had a deep distrust of laws; many nonetheless do. Most could already really feel prefer it’s too late, with catastrophic lack of coral reefs, overfishing, and injury to essential habitats like our seagrasses and mangroves. Larger issues than these galvanized by the #KeysStrong hashtag threaten what we love — like water high quality points, like local weather change.
I nonetheless have hope that this may be the sanctuary’s personal quarter-life-crisis and that we will flip the scenario round. We could not be capable to deliver again the huge coral stands that after stuffed our waters, however we will assist the science working to restore some of our reefs. The fish received’t come again immediately, however they may comply with the corals, if we allow them to. All of these assist the economic system and the livelihoods of the 1000’s of Conchs who stay right here.
We’ve to endure these difficult occasions and emerge along with a plan for our sanctuary that everybody can get behind. Hopefully then, the following 30 years can be successful story all of us can proudly inform. In any case, they are saying, “30 is the brand new 20, and 40 is the brand new 30.” Let’s make it good.
I’ll depart you with these iconic pictures from my pal Stephen Frink, who’s been taking footage of our waters because the Seventies. These are a few of his favourite photographs of what the Keys waters have been like earlier than the sanctuary’s designation. Hopefully, with our collective assist, we’ll have a brand new assortment of pictures within the subsequent decade to showcase how far we’ve are available restoring this glory.