The south Florida island chain attracts visitors from across the globe not only for its alluring scenery or lavish vacation homes; many organizations throughout the Florida Keys offer an opportunity for the public to meet and sometimes interact with an astounding and colorful variety of wildlife. The subtropical climate of the Florida Keys means you’ll encounter unique species not found anywhere else in North America. The staff are often comprised of local volunteers working hard for the conservation and rehabilitation of our environment much of which is endangered and susceptible to the threat of irresponsible human activity and climate change. By visiting and supporting their facilities, you’re directly contributing to their efforts to preserve the wildlife inhabiting the Florida Keys.
Key Largo is the uppermost island in the Florida Keys and is home to several marine mammal rehabilitation centers and educational resources such as Island Dolphin Care and the Dolphin Research Center. Island Dolphin Care not only specializes in the care and treatment of dolphins. Their facility also offers an unmatched therapeutic program specially designed to fit the needs of persons with disabilities.
Just a few short miles south of Key Largo is Tavernier at which the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center & Sanctuary rehabilitates and provides a dwelling place for nearly 40 different species of non-releasable birds. The sanctuary hosts an environment necessary for the birds to live comfortably in their natural setting. Although all of the birds housed at the sanctuary are wild (non-domesticated), some are used in educational interactions providing for a memorable experience and greater awareness of what we can do to protect these distinctive creatures.
Marathon is located in the center or heart of the Florida Keys and features some major attractions such as the Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters and the beloved Turtle Hospital. The Turtle Hospital has successfully rehabilitated and released over 1,500 sea turtles since it was established in 1986. Their facility also houses some “permanent residents” deemed to be non-releasable. Visitors at the Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters can meet, interact with and feed sting rays, tarpon, turtles and more diverse marine life. Other activities include snorkeling and diving in their enclosed, saltwater lagoon or coral reef environments. There are a variety of ways you can support conservation efforts during your visit to the Florida Keys while also creating lasting memories with your loved ones.