Helker’s Island

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helkers island 21photo by Jared Jacobs

On Saturday, January 10th, 2015, participants celebrated Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves’ 40th anniversary, a month-long celebration, by participating in the “Paddle Out! Biscayne Bay” event. The participants traveled to an island in the northern part of the aquatic preserves in order to celebrate the bay and pledge their own personal eco-action for the stewardship of the aquatic preserves.

The “Paddle Out! Biscayne Bay” adventure paddle participants were invited to travel via canoes, kayaks and paddleboards along a three-mile route to Helker’s Island, while non-paddlers enjoyed a catamaran tour of the aquatic preserves aboard Miami-Dade County’s Pelican Skipper.

Xavier Cortada , international eco-artist and artist-in-residence at FIU College of Architecture + The Arts, led an eco-art project installation on Helker’s Island using green flags painted by schoolchildren from around the county. The students who painted seahorses and text on the green flags were asked to pledge an eco-action — a personal commitment to help Biscayne Bay not just survive, but thrive, for the next 40 years. (See http://cortada.com/2014/ LittoralCreatures/EcoActions).

As the paddlers approached the island, they were greeted by a line of painted flags floating on the water and crossing the shoreline and into the island’s tree hammock. Participants followed the line and selected the flags that most resonated with them. On land, they gathered in a circle and read them to each other in a circle, as they, too, pledged their own eco-action.

“The installation referenced the interconnectedness of land and water., ” said Cortada. “It also emphasized our role as stewards. The actions we take or fail to take on land directly impact on our precious bay.”