FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 12, 2015
CONTACT: Pamela Sweeney, 305-795-3486, Pamela.Sweeney@dep.state.fl.us
BISCAYNE BAY AQUATIC PRESERVES HOSTS 40TH ANNIVERSARY PADDLE TO PROTECT THE BAY
~An island excursion and eco-art project celebrated the beauty and history of the preserves~
Photo credit: Lloyd Goradesky
MIAMI – More than 50 paddlers celebrated Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves 40th anniversary celebration by participating in the “Paddle Out! Biscayne Bay” event, heldSaturday. Participants traveled by catamaran and paddlecraft 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.
During the “Paddle Out! Biscayne Bay” adventure paddle participants kayaked along a six-mile route to Helker’s Island, while non-paddlers enjoyed a catamaran tour of the island and aquatic preserves aboard Miami-Dade County’s Pelican Skipper. Xavier Cortada, international eco-artist and artist-in-residence at Florida International University’s College of Architecture and The Arts, led an eco-art installation on Helker’s Island using painted flags created by schoolchildren from across the county.
“This event was an excellent show of the importance of Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves both ecologically and economically to Florida” said Kevin Claridge, director of the DEP Florida Coastal Office. “The event brought together shared interests in the Bay – from business to recreational and academic to purely aesthetic – the Aquatic Preserve’s 40th anniversary celebration was a great time to recognize past successes and think about future goals.”
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. As the paddlers approached the island, they were greeted by a line of painted flags floating on the water and crossing the shoreline 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 as they, too, pledged their own eco-action.
“The installation referenced the interconnectedness of land and water.” said Xavier Cortada, international eco-artist. “It also emphasized our role as stewards. The actions we take or fail to take on land directly impact on our precious bay.”
At the after party, participants enjoyed food trucks and live music provided by local musicians. They were also presented the opportunity to become part of the Friends of Biscayne Bay organization, working to support the preserves’ management initiatives.
Highlights from the day included the release of a rehabilitated brown pelican by the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station and an award presented to marine officer Sgt. Bobby Randazzo of the Sunny Isles Police Department by Kevin Claridge, director of the Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Coastal Office that oversees the management of the state’s aquatic preserves.
“Preserving our environment for generations to come is very important to me. It all starts with seagrass grass and algae,” said Sgt. Bobby Randazzo, a key ally in Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves’ management and habitat restoration efforts.
Neighboring the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves’ office is North Bay Village. Mayor Connie Leon-Kreps was at the event to show her support of the preserves’ 40th anniversary. Mayor Leon-Kreps asked the audience to recommit to protecting the bay for the next 40 years.
The Friends of Biscayne Bay hosted the event, which was sponsored by TUUCI, Key Biscayne Community Foundation, Biscayne Bay Brewery, Miami-Dade County Parks and Recreation, Tropical Audubon Society, Whole Foods, Creative Minds Advertising, Garl’s Coastal Kayaking, Blue Moon Outdoor Center, and the city of Sunny Isles.
About the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Coastal Office
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Coastal Office (FCO) is responsible for oversight of the State’s 41 Aquatic Preserves, three National Estuarine Research Reserves, the Coral Reef Conservation Program, and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. It is the mission of FCO to conserve and restore Florida’s coastal resources for the benefit of people and the environment. For more information http://www.dep.state.fl.us/ coastal/