A special use area five miles southeast of Tavernier is closed for use until at least Jan. 5, 2024 except for continuous transit as it continues to house temporary coral nurseries. NKNMS/Contributed

A coral nursery in federal waters about five miles southeast of Tavernier will retain special use protections for an additional 60 days after NOAA exercised its emergency authority to extend a temporary rule, which prohibits all entry except for continuous transit without interruption. The emergency provision, which had not been used by Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) in 20 years, was established in September for a 0.07-square-mile area during a summer heat wave that caused restoration partner Reef Renewal to move corals to a temporary nursery in deeper, cooler water.

“It was a Herculean effort to move thousands of coral fragments to this temporary location for safe keeping,” said Sarah Fangman, FKNMS superintendent, “and this extension will provide our partner ample time to return them to their original, permitted location.” 

The 60-day extension will end on Jan. 5, 2024. The GPS location for the Tavernier Temporary Special Use Area can be found in the free Marine Sanctuary Explorer mobile app by searching “Tavernier (Temporary) Special Use Area.”

Boundary Coordinates (Latitude, Longitude):

  1. 24.96934, -80.44378
  2. 24.97076, -80.43955
  3. 24.96765, -80.43759
  4. 24.96612, -80.44186
  5. 24.96934, -80.44378