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SCUBA DIVING :: FORUMS :: NEWS :: PARADISE SCREWED

CDNN Opinion :: Paradise Screwed: Spiegel Grove and the Florida Keys

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by Dr. ALISTAIR BILLINGS

Coral reef damage
Too many dive boats, too many sport fishers, too many people have turned the Florida Keys into an ecological disaster.

It's hard to believe that only 50 years ago, an hour's drive from Miami airport and a 20 minute boat ride across crystalline aquamarine waters could take divers, sport fishers and boaters to an unspoiled underwater paradise.

But there it was - the world of the Florida Keys - a curving line of shining islets stretching from Biscayne Bay for over 150 miles to the southwest.

As it had remained for thousands of years, the undersea treasure that was the Florida Keys of the 50s - even the early 70s - was flanked by vast tracts of unblemished corals washed by shallow turquoise seas.

The unspoiled habitats were occupied by an abundance and diversity of marine life that equaled - if not surpassed - just about anything else the tropical western Atlantic had to offer.

But that was then, and this is now.

Sure, the water still looks pretty on the sand flats - on a good day anyway. And there are still more than a few fish to be seen.

But the condition of the reefs?  The quality of coastal waters here? That's another story entirely...

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