Mile Markers

Saturday, January 31, 2015
FLORIDA KEYS
Coast Guard warns of unsafe reef lights

The Coast Guard is warning mariners to not climb historical reef lights in the Florida Keys because of deterioration and unsound structural integrity.

These lights include: Alligator Reef; American Shoal Reef; Carysfort Reef; Sand Key Reef; and Sombrero Key Reef Light.

While these structures are not at risk of collapsing, they are unsafe for climbing.

Boaters are prohibited from tying to, climbing, anchoring to or trespassing on any aid to navigation.

Because of extensive deterioration of the structures, cost to repair them and the inability to safely maintain them as navigational aids, the Coast Guard plans to shift current lighting from Alligator, American Shoal and Sombrero Key Reef lights to more cost-effective structures with more reliable lighting equipment.

The original structures will not be removed. Conversions of Carysfort and Sand Key Reef lights have been completed.

The new lights cost an estimated $100,000 each; estimates to repair the existing historic structures would have cost taxpayers approximately $2 million a light, according to the Coast Guard.

For information call Lt. j.g. Peter Bermont at 305-292-8744.

Saturday, January 31, 2015
KEY LARGO
Tourist diver dies

A 58-year-old diver from Ontario, Canada, died Thursday on French Reef, according to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.

The captain of the dive vessel Visibility said divers spent 30 minutes at 38 feet. James Leek was with a dive instructor in the water. Leek surfaced and appeared to be fine, but later became unresponsive, according to reports. Vessel employees performed CPR on Leek until they arrived at John Pennekamp State Park shortly after 3 p.m.

Waiting paramedics took Leek to Mariner's Hospital where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy is scheduled.

Saturday, January 31, 2015
MONROE COUNTY
Snook season reopens March 1

The harvest of snook in Florida's Gulf of Mexico state waters, including Everglades National Park and all of Monroe County, will reopen March 1, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced Thursday.

The recreational harvest season for snook reopens Feb. 1 in Florida's Atlantic coastal and inland waters (from the Miami-Dade/Monroe County line north), including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River.

The season will remain open through May 31.

Anglers may catch and release snook during the closed season, but the FWC encourages anglers to handle and release these fish carefully to help ensure their survival upon release. Proper handling methods can help ensure the species abundance.

A snook permit is required to keep snook, along with a saltwater fishing license, unless the angler is exempt from the license requirements. Only hook-and-line gear is allowed when targeting or harvesting snook.

For the county-by-county list, go to MyFWC.com/Research and click on "Snook Anglers Asked to Help with Research."