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Mooring Buoy Placement

Sanctuary Friends helps support the FKNMS’s Mooring Buoy Program

Mooring Buoys are designed to protect the coral reef!
Environmental-embedment mooring buoys are designed to protect coral from anchor damage when boaters want to stop and enjoy the marine environment.  Sanctuary Friends Foundation is assisting the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in replacing damaged buoys and re-installing lost buoys that have broken away from their embedment.  Use of these environmentally-sensitive moorings as a means of reducing or eliminating anchor damage has become a widely-accepted tool for managing the coral reef environment.

History of Mooring buoy development in the Florida Keys

In July 1981, John Halas established six experimental embedded anchor mooring systems in the Florida Keys. He installed them at French Reef, working in conjunction with Harold Hudson and Dan Robin of the U.S Geological Survey, Fisher Island Station. Halas completed the anchor installation using a hydraulic core drill and cement, drawing on coral core sampling techniques used by Hudson.

A four-inch-diameter hole was drilled into the ancient limestone substrate and an 18-inch stainless steel eye pin was cemented into the hole, creating a permanent attachment point. From the anchor pins, six different mooring arrays were attached, using a variety of materials. The buoys were observed for a year, and then the best of the six systems was selected for wider use. Over the next few years, with a few modifications, over 80 additional buoys were placed out in the Sanctuary, and approximately 22 buoys were established at Looe Key. Subsequently, with start-up expertise from the Sanctuary program, several non-profit foundations including Reef Relief, Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary Inc., and Coral Reef foundation established buoys off Key West, Marathon, and Islamorada. At present there are over 400 buoys available for safe anchorage in the Sanctuary.

FKNMS-Maintained Mooring Buoy Locations

What is a Mooring Buoy?

In the FKNMS, a mooring buoy is an 18 to 22-inch-diameter, round, white plastic float with a blue stripe used  to secure boats in the reef environment without risking damage to coral.  There is a 12-to 15-foot yellow, floating pickup line attached to the top of each buoy. Mooring buoys are designed for short-time use and employ an embedment-type anchor that holds the buoy securely in place without causing any damage to nearby living corals.
In 2005, the Florida Keys experienced Hurricane Katrina on August 26, Hurricane Rita on September 12,  and Hurricane Wilma on October 23.  Some of the mooring buoys safeguarding our tropical coral reef were damaged or lost.  The Sanctuary Friends Foundation assisted the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in replacing damaged buoys and re-installing lost buoys that broke away from their embedment.
Sanctuary Friends concentrates conservation activities on our Florida Keys coral reef, as we consider it a “biological hotspot” – an area rich in plant and marine life at risk of imminent destruction. We are proud to announce that our contributions to date amount to $12,430 and are pleased to be able to assist this project that inspires people to become better stewards of our marine environment.

Have you seen our Buoy Banks in businesses in the Florida Keys?  Throw a little change in them, and help up upkeep and place more buoys in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.