The annual “Delicate Balance of Nature” lecture series kicks off its 30th season in a virtual format due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  

It’s sponsored by the Friends of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park (Citizen Support Organization). This year the series will be three online presentations via Zoom, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The first talk on Wednesday, March 10, “Crabs and Coral Restoration,” will be presented by Angelo “Jason” Spadaro, assistant professor of marine science and technology at the College of the Florida Keys. 

The iconic coral reef ecosystem in Florida, of both economic and ecological value, is now dependent on restoration efforts if it is to survive. Spadaro will discuss research that led to the inclusion of a large native crab species in ongoing coral restoration projects in Florida and other Caribbean basin locations. To attend this event, register at crabsandcoral.eventbrite.com.

The Zoom format creates the opportunity for the series to continue and others to attend, but it will be a limited audience (100 participants, including the speaker and hosts). Please plan to sign on a few minutes in advance of the presentation to ensure inclusion in the list of attendees. Information to register for the following talks will be available on the Friends of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park & Dagny Johnson State Park’s Facebook page. 

“We wanted to be able to continue this invaluable source of information for the park community, and the ability to have online presentations makes it possible,” said Ann Helmers, president of the Friends. “This year’s topics will be the role of crabs in coral restoration; the importance and biology of mangroves; and the elusive Florida panther. We are grateful to the speakers who make it possible for us to provide high quality interpretive programs for the residents and visitors of Key Largo and the Florida Keys.”

There is no charge to attend the lectures, but participants are encouraged to become members of the Friends group or make a donation that will support park projects slated to be started this year.

More information is available from Elena Muratori, park services specialist, at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, 305-676-3786. More information on Friends of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park is at https://pennekampparkfriends.org.

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