Most of the time, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is a public park under federal jurisdiction, but over the weekend, the sanctuary hosted a very special event — another visitor.
Captain Hai Quan and his dolphins are one of the world’s most famous dive destinations. Here, he gets up early, slips on his jet ski, and cruises the Keys. It’s safe to say he’s never seen anyone as excited as an excited boy or woman might be. “They loved it,” says Quan. “Sometimes they came from a third-world country to see a dolphin swimming. … It is a dream come true for them.”
But just off the southern tip of the Florida Keys, a 2,000-pound copper freighter is exploring a new treasure: coral reefs.
Scientists believe the ocean’s corals may be one of the worst-off areas, on Earth, with the rate of die-off alarming and accelerating.
“The coral reefs depend upon the overall ocean system, and ocean conditions are changing so fast,” says University of South Florida oceanographer Carl Meyer.
Hollywood was not here. The island of Key Largo did not welcome the freighter Chariot, which just cut across the reef near Pensacola.
This reef will survive — and so will Hai Quan and his dolphins, making a quick appearance on their visitors’ visit.