Coral Poachers Arrested in Florida Keys While Trying to Take Corals for Their Reef Tank
In an unfortunate black eye for the reef hobby, a father and son were arrested today and charged with coral poaching off the waters of Islamorada in the Florida Keys. The father and son were from Nashville, TN and were spotted by snorkelers offshore near
in a small boat. They were arrested with 20+ pieces of coral in their possession in a cooler as well as hammers and chisels that were used to remove corals from the marine sanctuary. The son, was also charged with possession of marine life without a circulating live well and possession of over the recreational bag limit of marine life.
Perception is Reality
Whether these two knew taking corals from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary was wrong or not, this type of behavior needs to serve as education for the rest of the marine reef aquarium hobby. They were caught doing something they shouldn’t have been doing and whether they love corals and marine creatures like the rest of the reef hobby, these actions do not reflect that premise.
There isn’t a coral reef hobbyist out there that hasn’t been snorkeling or diving on a reef and has not thought “Wow, I would love to have that coral or fish in my aquarium”. The takeaway of that thought however, has to be that we use the knowledge we gain from our home marine environments and educate others as to why the real thing that isn’t in our living rooms needs our protection. We cannot just go out into the ocean with chisels and try to remove it.
Sustainable Corals and Ecological Reconstruction
There are more ways than ever to purchase sustainably corals and raised marine life so to see this type of action is pretty sad. As someone that keeps beautiful marine life in captivity, seeing the picture above also stirs the question in my head of “That’s it? That is the best they could find in a protected area?” Its a reminder of just how dire the situation is for the caribbean reefs that fringe our southernmost coast is. It also underscores on a more hopeful note, how important the work of organizations like the Coral Reef Foundation are. Their coral farming and and re-seeding of natural reef areas just northeast of where this father and son were caught are nothing short of amazing and offer a glimpse of what is possible for the future of our coral reefs here in the US.