You shouldn't feed reef fish while snorkeling or diving in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary because it disrupts their natural behavior, but that activity is encouraged at the newly opened Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters.
Visitors to the Middle Keys can enjoy the immersive experience with reef fish, invertebrates, stingrays and even sharks.
The signature feature of the multimillion-dollar facility in Marathon is a coral reef exhibit and shark habitat housed in a massive 200,000-gallon interconnected saltwater aquarium for viewing.
As a hands-on interactive learning center, the unique attraction strives to inform visitors about the importance of marine conservation while they discover the complex underwater habitats of the Florida Keys.
Following an instructional presentation, participants in the flagship 90-minute encounter can immerse themselves in the tank to hover over an artificial coral reef structure and interact with tropical reef fish, rays and other reef-dwelling marine species that are part of the in-tank ecosystem.
BrewFest to Rule Key West's Labor Day Weekend
More than 150 beers and ales, including unique microbrews, are to be on tap at Key West BrewFest, scheduled Aug. 28 through Sept. 1. "Drink in" the details of the lager lovers' event, and its beachfront Signature Tasting Festival, by clicking here.
Womenfest to Blend Music, Comedy and Key West Camaraderie
A hot lineup of musical and comedy talents and a warm welcome await attendees Sept. 4-7 at Key West's Womenfest, a celebration for lesbians and their friends in the island city known for its all-welcoming diversity. For the fun-filled festival highlights, click here.
Enjoy Museums and Attractions Weekend Aug. 22-24
Visitors can discover the history of the Florida Keys Aug. 22-24 by taking advantage of free- or reduced-admission incentives to experience more than 20 museums and attractions in the island chain. To preview the participants, click here.
Sportfishing and tourism, two of the Florida Keys' mainstay industries, are explored and celebrated in "Legends of the Line," the first of several permanent exhibits to open at Islamorada's Keys History & Discovery Center. Begin exploring the unique exhibit here.
Each year, divers and snorkelers hover over Keys reefs hoping to witness a fascinating phenomenon that occurs in the middle of the night — when corals release millions of gametes in synchronized mass spawnings. Find out how to see the spectacle by clicking here.
Anglers, guides and celebrities are to fish for elusive shallow-water gamefish during the Robert James Sales S.L.A.M. Celebrity Fishing Tournament, the first in an annual Keys tournament trilogy that raises money for the fight against cystic fibrosis. For details, click here.
"PROFILES IN PARADISE"
For Key Largo's Keri Kenning, the water and fish have been a part of her life since the age of three, when she asked Santa Claus for a Minnie Mouse rod and reel. Diving is an extension of this natural attraction, and led her to become one of REEF's preeminent fish surveyors and lionfish hunters. Read how her dives with an objective pay it forward for Keys reefs.
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From an insider's perspective, this blog uncovers the hidden Keys.
A hearty appetite and a fondness for lobsters are mandatory during this celebration. Tasty events salute the sweet clawless crustacean following the Aug. 6 start of the Florida Keys lobster season. Click here.
in Key Largo
Anything that Floats Regatta Race
Grab your oars and anything that floats and enjoy this family-fun festival, an on-the-water race of vessels crafted from items around the house. Race events begin at 3 p.m. and are free to enter and watch along Blackwater Sound, mile marker (MM) 104 bayside. Click here.
in Key West
Walk on White Monthly Art Stroll
This regular neighborhood gallery stroll, set for 6-9 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month, is perhaps the best known among art lovers. Free and open to the public, it's held on the island city's White Street from Southard to United streets and onto Truman Avenue.
in Key Largo
Florida Keys 100 Fish ID Challenge
Join Keys-based underwater photographers Carlos and Allison Estape in the quest to become a Century Club Diver, and identify 100+ species on one dive! Learn about fish biodiversity in the Florida Keys and how to do a century dive at popular sites in the Upper Keys. Free and open to the public, the event is set for 7-8:30 p.m. at Reef Environmental Education Foundation headquarters in the median at MM 98.3. Click here.
'Dive into History' Quarterly Event Series
Presented by the History of Diving Museum, this installment of the series is an excursion into oceanic exploration. Learn about William Beebe's record-setting Bathysphere dive descent to 3,028 feet and James Cameron's submersible Deepsea Challenger, made famous with his solo dive to the deepest spot in the world's oceans. Highlights include movie screenings, guest speakers, a "sea creatures for kids" workshop and more. Click here.
Each fall, Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key hosts an annual program to honor military, fire and rescue, law enforcement and medical personnel. A special Labor Day Weekend event is planned to include an All-American barbecue, heroes tribute, country music concert and fireworks show. Click here.
throughout the Florida Keys
Key Largo to Key West Cycle Challenge
Riders and their support crews navigate more than 100 miles of the Florida Keys Heritage Trail and Overseas Highway as solo, two-person or four-person teams. The course begins at Key Largo Bike and Adventure Tours, MM 92, and ends at Higgs Beach in Key West. Click here.
throughout the Florida Keys
Phil Peterson's Key West Poker Run
It's an All-American event as motorcycle enthusiasts from around the U.S. travel the Keys' scenic Overseas Highway from mainland Florida to Key West to raise money for charity. The participant with the best poker hand can win a new Harley-Davidson. Stops are arranged throughout the Keys, with a final celebration in Key West. Keyswide events are planned for the entire week. Click here.
Marathon International Bonefish Tournament
For more than 50 years, this challenge has awarded individual and team champions scoring the largest bonefish and permit, as well as the top anglers in fly and grand slam divisions (for the top spin or fly angler who releases the largest bonefish, permit and tarpon "slam"). The event is one of the few tournaments where anglers can fish without a professional guide. To register, email or call 305-304-8682.
throughout the Florida Keys
Florida Keys Birding & Wildlife Festival
The peak of fall birding season is celebrated during the annual get-out-in-nature event. Attractions include an environmental fair and Keyswide field trips focused on education and conservation as they relate to Keys birds, wildlife, nature photography and more. Click here.