IN PICTURES: MOTE MARINE’S OCEAN FEST CELEBRATES THE SEA

The College of the Florida Keys’ Southernmost Coral Restoration Club raises awareness at Ocean Fest.

Key West dove headfirst into Mote Marine’s 10th annual Ocean Fest on April 23 at Truman Waterfront. 

Dozens of vendors sold everything from hand-painted surfboards to jewelry made from the scales of the invasive lionfish, which is neither native to nor welcome in Atlantic waters.

There was also plenty of marine education awareness and education from organizations working to protect the ocean, mangroves, wild birds and the coral reef.

Kids had plenty of fun, too, with fishing activities, bucket rides by Keys Energy Services, face painting, bounce houses and a rock-climbing wall.

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Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.