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Have Fun AND Make A Difference
 On Your Florida Keys Vacation

Voluntourism has become a big part of the Florida Keys vacation experience.

The reason is that this region is home to a variety of interesting, sometimes unusual, and often endangered species of wildlife.

Fortunately, due to a multitude of conservation efforts, numerous species are making a comeback.

The area's eco tourist guides play a vital role in teaching the value of protecting Florida wildlife, while conserving the environment.

At the same time, they reinforce the value of good stewardship which is the basis of sustainable tourism.

To understand the importance of leaving what you found in as good or better condition then when you arrived. Observing, not disturbing. Giving, not taking.

These premises help keep the economy of the region alive, letting it grow, helping to ensure there's future work and prosperity for local residents and is why volunteer vacations to the Florida Keys are on the rise.

It's on these conservation effort principals that a number of Florida Keys conservation programs have been founded.

Elkhorn coral is one of the more successful corals for restoration projects

Coral Restoration Projects Propagate Elkhorn Coral
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Dale M. McDonald Collection

One popular option with certified divers is the Coral Restoration Foundation. This organization has been vigorously working to help repopulate the coral reefs of the Florida Keys.

Through voluntourism, certified divers can participate in several different coral restoration programs where they learn the process of propagating coral and then become involved in transplanting the nubbins to help regrow the Florida Keys coral reefs.

Through NOAA, positions for volunteer greeters may also be available at the Key West Eco-Discovery Center.

Located in Key Largo, FL, the Marine Mammal Conservancy focuses on protecting, rescuing and rehabilitating dolphins and whales. Participants are encouraged to help protect these special mammals and adopt a dolphin programs are available.

Another organization based out of Key Largo is Reef which is actively involved in reef restoration projects throughout many regions of the world. Each year they host different programs like the Great Annual Fish Count and the Reef Survey, where certified divers on Florida Keys vacations can participate and make a difference.

Protected Sea Turtle Nest on Smathers Beach, Key West FL

Protected Sea Turtle Nest on Smathers Beach, Key West FL
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Dale M. McDonald Collection

Another organization, Reef Relief, has been working since 1987 to educate divers and those snorkeling Florida Keys about the fragility and importance of the coral reefs. Involved in a number of causes related to improving the quality of the water while protecting the inhabitants therein, this Key West based organization continues to play a major role in water and marine conservation.

Under the sponsorship of the Florida Park Service and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission, the Save-A-Turtle Foundation was formed in 1985. Their diligent work to promote awareness of the dangers facing sea turtles on land and at sea has helped save countless sea turtles. Volunteers can help by joining their organization, or by even adopting one or more of the many Florida Keys baby sea turtles.

The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary also has different conservation programs available where volunteers can participate on various levels. One of the programs is Team Ocean which helps prevent boat groundings by monitoring and also informing boaters as to the dangers of their impact upon the coral reef structures.

Finger Reef at Sand Key

Finger Reef at Sand Key
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Dale M. McDonald Collection

These different conservation programs are designed to benefit the wildlife and marine life they seek to protect. However, there's more to these conservation programs than this vital premise.

Through voluntourism, tourists and locals are able to gain the valuable education they need to understand the delicate balance of nature. To learn the impact of negative and positive actions, and how they can pay forward what they've learned to future generations.

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Local Weather Zip Codes

Key Largo - 33037
Marathon - 33050
Key West - 33040