View Full Version : Places to collect legally in FL Keys

05/03/2016, 01:13 PM
I'm planning a trip somewhere in the Keys and would like to able to collect a few gorgonians, macro algae, and maybe serpent stars for my tank. I already have my Recreational Fishing License and am aware of the regulations, I just wanted to know of any specific places that I could collect from. We're most likely just going to be bringing kayaks down with us, so it can't be too far out from shore. Any advice or recommendations would be appreciated, thanks guys :beer:

05/03/2016, 10:49 PM
Not sure about the macro algae or gorgonians, but you can find serpent and brittle stars anywhere you go. Rock flipping is the key to finding them. You can walk out in shin deep water and you'll have a few under every rock.

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Ron Reefman
05/04/2016, 04:41 AM
Where in the Keys will you be staying?
If you haven't decided and snorkeling/kayaking are high priorities I'd recommend the Middle Keys, probably Marathon on Vyca Key just NE of the Seven Mile Bridge.

Will you be prepared with equipment to get your collected items home safely?
I use a big bucket and a battery powered bubbler with a weighted airstone for use at the beach or out in the boat. I use a medium size cooler and a plug in bubbler back in the motel room. A heater isn't a bad idea if you keep the cooler in your room. A/C in the room and the bubbler blowing cool air through it can get the water quite chilly over night. I also do water changes at least every other day, every day if I can.

Have you read through the thread here:
There are a variety of places described that could work for you. The Horseshoe off Spanish Harbor Key (or the other side of the island) are both just walk in off the shore.

http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp37/RonReefman/Picture1.jpg (http://s395.photobucket.com/user/RonReefman/media/Picture1.jpg.html)

Little Money Key is 1/4 mile off shore, Money Key is 1 mile off shore and Molasses Key is 2 miles off shore. All 3 are along the Seven Mile Bridge and in quite shallow water. Just be aware of tides with a kayak. Like Sam said above, just turn over a rock or two and you'll have stars, sea cucumbers, emerald crabs, rock flower anemones, snails and hermit crabs. There are a lot of other things as well, but it's very unlikely you'll want them in your aquarium at home! Divers gloves (or some other kind of protective glove like cheap mechanic's gloves) can be a big asset. Some of the rocks are sharp and have things like fire worms hiding under them. BTW, we lift rocks up, look under and set them back down the same way they were. Flipping them over exposes sponges and other animals to sun and predators that they can't survive. Do your part and be a good citizen for everybody else who wants to snorkel as well as for all the critters in the water. Life on the reef is tough enough.

http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp37/RonReefman/serpent%20star%20lepard%20spots%20P7130155_zpsaar9okgz.jpg (http://s395.photobucket.com/user/RonReefman/media/serpent%20star%20lepard%20spots%20P7130155_zpsaar9okgz.jpg.html)

http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp37/RonReefman/Bahamian%20Sea%20Star%20P7130102_zps1o9zcbfh.jpg (http://s395.photobucket.com/user/RonReefman/media/Bahamian%20Sea%20Star%20P7130102_zps1o9zcbfh.jpg.html)

http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp37/RonReefman/moray%20eel_zps8s5o3x01.jpg (http://s395.photobucket.com/user/RonReefman/media/moray%20eel_zps8s5o3x01.jpg.html)

http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp37/RonReefman/P3290389R1%20Little%20Money%20zoas_zpspyvxrf5o.jpg (http://s395.photobucket.com/user/RonReefman/media/P3290389R1%20Little%20Money%20zoas_zpspyvxrf5o.jpg.html)

http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp37/RonReefman/octopusinhandcloseup_zps829be9c9.jpg (http://s395.photobucket.com/user/RonReefman/media/octopusinhandcloseup_zps829be9c9.jpg.html)

http://i395.photobucket.com/albums/pp37/RonReefman/P1010027%20R1_zpsganjyylb.jpg (http://s395.photobucket.com/user/RonReefman/media/P1010027%20R1_zpsganjyylb.jpg.html)

As you can guess, some of these have come home to my tanks (pics 1, 4 & 6) and some (pics 2, 3, & 5) are still in the water back at the Keys! I hope have great weather. BTW, the Horseshoe is quite 'protected' from 80% of the winds in the Keys and with the large arms that stick out, there is always some very calm water to be found somewhere around the outside. Inside is cool/cold as it is 40' deep in spots. Not much to see in there except along the edges out near the opening away from shore.

05/04/2016, 07:27 AM
Check out Ron's thread on the same subforum , Scuba/Snorkeling- Florida Keys locations

I think the further south you go the less you'll have to worry. I say this because Key Largo is like 75% John Pennekamp State Park and that's a no no for collecting, also there's a lot more Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary zones in the upper part of the keys. And we have the everglades in our back yard.
John Pennekamp is so big it's difficult to know if you are in or out, unless you are familiar with the local waters. Even while spearfishing I'm always making sure I'm south of it when looking for new spots in addition to keeping 3 miles away from land.

I know you will stay inshore but keep in mind, areas marked with Yellow Bouys is also a no no. There are two inshore reefs with these I believe. One near key West and another in upper keys.

For specific spots, I have a couple of reefer friends that go to Founder's Park (Islamorada), Harry Harris (Tavernier) and places in marathon.