It is said a picture is worth a thousand words. This picture unfortunately, is one of a thousand cruise ship voyages that have called Key West port. The photo was taken of a cruise ship as it exits Key West Harbor. The long trail behind it is referred to as a“silt-plume”, as it’s prop-wash blows sediment from the sea-floor into the water column.
Florida Keys adjacent waters are part of a federal and state level protected marine sanctuary, home of the only barrier reef found in the US. Most everything within this marine sanctuary is protected, including the sea-floor. When a recreational boater damages seagrass on a far smaller scale, that person can face harsh state and federal penalties. How is the cruise ship industry finding it’s way through such preservation efforts?
Silt, or “siltation” is believed to be a major contributor to coral reef decay. Corals, seagrass, and other marine plant and animal life found on the sea-floor depend on sunlight for photosynthesis much like the plants and grass found in our yards. If sunlight becomes blocked from any of the above, it doesn’t take a scientist to figure what comes next.
Silt is the finest of sediment found underneath a vast network of seagrass throughout Florida Keys shallow water. Much like dust, silt is what’s pictured above trailing behind a ship too large for Key West Harbor already dredged once in 2005 to accommodate such a ship. Marine dredging and sea-floor destruction is very bad for sub-tropical water quality, both producing more and more silt throughout the water column. Previous dredging efforts obviously haven’t worked. The idea that future mass dredging and sea-floor destruction may help accommodate “mega cruise ships”, is blinded by greed.
On October 1st 2013, the city of Key West voted this debate down!
This webpage is kept as a reminder.
A BIG THANKS! Goes out to the Key West Committee for Responsible Tourism, Last Stand, Keys Keeper, Reef Relief, and anyone else who slapped an anti-dredging bumper sticker on their car. Because of you Key West marine life can live a bit easier; way to go!
Key West has one of the best tarpoan fisheries on the planet and it is because of its unique geography, pristine waters and abundance of life. The epicenter of this fishery is the deep-water located here in Key West Harbor and precisely off the point of Fort Taylor in Cut B. This area is a staging point for an annual migration of tarpon. The tarpon that come here are the tarpon that we catch and releasethroughout the Florida Keys and the rest of the state.
Key West Harbor literally feeds all of it’s surrounding marine habitat. When Key West Harbor was dredged in 2005 a majority of the corals, sponges and sea fans were removed. We experienced a decline in the number of tarpon and the duration of their stay. We believe this is due to the habitat destruction of surrounding Key West Harbor fauna.
The charter fishing industry is of huge importance to the Florida Keys local economy, as well as the entire state of Florida for that matter. As a whole, the Lower Keys Guides Association stands adamantly opposed to the idea of any further Key West Harbor dredging effort to allow passage for “mega cruise ships”.