DIVING, SEMINARS & MORE AT THIS YEAR’S REEF FEST IN THE UPPER KEYS

REEF/Contributed

All are invited to celebrate marine conservation during REEF Fest on Oct. 13-16, 2022, in Key Largo. Hosted by Reef Environmental Education Foundation, this annual event features educational ocean seminars, social gatherings, diving, snorkeling, and kayaking. 

Seminars and most social events are free and open to the public, although online pre-registration is requested. More information is at www.REEF.org/REEFfest.

OCEAN SEMINARS

Free educational seminars will be held on Friday, Oct. 14, and Saturday, Oct. 15 at the Murray Nelson Government Center in Key Largo. Guest speakers include scientists, underwater photographers and more. This year’s seminar speaker lineup includes:

• Chris Stallings, associate professor of the University of South Florida, who will discuss the history and significance of goliath grouper in Florida.

• Andrea Grover, associate professor of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, who will share how citizen science can support climate resilience.

• Ben Titus, assistant professor, University of Alabama and senior marine scientist, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, who will explain how clownfish-sea anemone symbiosis and citizen science are connected.

This year’s keynote speaker is Richard Smith, a British award-winning underwater photographer, author and marine conservationist. Smith will be signing his book, “The World Beneath: The Life and Times of Unknown Sea Creatures and Coral Reefs, before the keynote seminar on Saturday. More information is at www.REEF.org/REEFfest/seminars.

Social Events

Tour the oldest building in the Upper Keys during the REEF Fest Open House, held at the REEF campus (MM 98.3 in the median) on Thursday, Oct. 13 from 4 to 7 p.m. Light snacks, plus wine and local craft beer from Florida Keys Brewing Company, will be available. The open house is free and open to the public.

Mingle with friends over sandwiches, snacks, and drinks during the REEF Fest Happy Hour Social, held on Friday, Oct. 14 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Murray Nelson Government Center. The event is free and open to the public.

“For the Love of the Sea,” the annual REEF Fest celebration dinner, will be held on Saturday, Oct. 15 from 5 to 9 p.m. Enjoy food, drinks and a beautiful sunset over the waters of Florida Bay, plus live music and a silent auction benefiting REEF’s marine conservation programs. An open bar with local craft beer from Florida Keys Brewing Company, plus wine, liquor and a selection of non-alcoholic beverages are also included. Tickets are available online for $100 per person.

Diving, snorkeling, kayaking and conservation activities

From coral reefs to mangrove trails, REEF Fest is the perfect opportunity to explore the marine environments of the Florida Keys. Local operators including Key Dives, Quiescence Diving Services, Amoray Dive Center, and Florida Bay Outfitters are offering special REEF Fest eco-excursions on the mornings of Thursday, Oct. 13, Friday, Oct. 14 and/or Saturday, Oct. 15. Diving, snorkeling, and kayaking may be booked directly at www.REEF.org/REEFfest/diving.

On the morning of Sunday, Oct. 16, attendees may join in a guided walking tour of a nature trail at John Pennekamp State Park. After the tour, attendees can choose to take a scenic drive down U.S. 1 to visit REEF’s community partners including Coral Restoration Foundation, History of Diving Museum and the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center.

Supporting the event are First Horizon Foundation, Florida Keys Brewing Company, A Movable Feast and the Monroe County Tourist Development Council.

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