The Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, a
project sponsored by three government agencies with private sector
support, opened on the Key West waterfront in an effort to help
promote understanding of how the ecosystem functions, and the value
of preserving it.
Based in the
Truman Annex, the 6,400-square-foot center enables visitors to view
the underwater ecosystems around the Keys, with a spotlight on what
it calls North Americas only living contiguous barrier coral reef
that parallels the island chain.
Speaking at the
opening event, James Connaughton, chairman of the White House
Council on Environmental Quality, said that educating the public
before they access the marine resource will help them to appreciate
the resource and ensure its continued conservation.
features interactive and touch-screen portions as well as text and
audio-visual presentations about the indigenous hardwood hammock,
mangrove, patch reef, sea grass,
deep shelf and Dry Tortugas environments.
Visitors can walk
through a replica of the Aquarius Undersea Lab, a manned underwater
research habitat near Key Largo, and listen to actual recordings
from the lab. Interactive video tours of the underwater environment
also are available.
The center is
operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the Dept. of Interior's
National Park Service and the DOI's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
with contributions from the Florida Keys tourism council and Royal
chairman of the Florida Keys tourism council, said the center will
"educate, entertain and continue to foster the need to preserve the
unique marine environment of the Keys."
To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail
to David Cogswell at [email protected].