Nancy Klingener

Nancy Klingener covers the Florida Keys for WLRN. Since moving to South Florida in 1989, she has worked for the Miami HeraldSolares Hill newspaper and the Monroe County Public Library.

She is a Spring 2014 graduate of the Transom Story Workshop. She is on the board of the Key West Literary Seminar and reviews books for the Miami Herald

Commissioners in Miami-Dade County and the city of Key West have voted to endorse  the Paris Climate Accord, despite President Donald Trump withdrawing the U.S. from the international agreement to cut carbon emissions earlier this month.

Most of the news and research these days about coral reefs is pretty grim — massive losses from bleaching, everywhere from Australia to the Florida Keys. Some parts of Florida and the Caribbean have lost more than half of the living coral off their reefs in the last three decades.

But there is some good news on the coral research front and this week saw a major milestone in those efforts, when Mote Marine Laboratory opened its new $7 million center in the Keys.

Cletus the crocodile may be lonely no more.

The American crocodile that showed up at the Dry Tortugas in 2003 was captured and loaded onto a seaplane over the weekend, then released in the Everglades.

Over the last several years, some new arrivals have taken up residence at Naval Air Station Key West's airfield on Boca Chica Key: American crocodiles.

"We don't know exactly how many we have," said Edward Barham, the environmental director for the base. "But we know we have four or five of them pretty much all the time."

Constellation is an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, but she spends most of her time in the Pacific. She's part of the Navy's Marine Mammal program, based in San Diego.

As the rainy season returns to South Florida and the fight against Zika gears up, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District Tuesday began a first-in-Florida trial of a control method that uses bacteria to reduce mosquito populations.

The district will release 20,000 male mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria twice a week for the next 12 weeks. The releases will take place in a 10-acre test site on Stock Island,  and mosquito traps there will be compared with a similar-sized control area nearby (but separated by a buffer).

The end of the wet-foot, dry-foot policy, which allowed Cuban refugees who made it to U.S. soil to stay in the country, also means the end of another phenomenon in the Florida Keys: refugee boats that were abandoned in remote islands.

Florida has not had any locally transmitted cases of Zika so far in 2017. And the number of travel-related cases has fallen drastically in the dry season.

But tests of new mosquito-fighting methods are still moving forward in the Florida Keys.

The first U.S. trial of genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes — the kind that carries Zika and dengue fever — is still on track for the Keys, just not on Key Haven. That's the island that Oxitec, the company that makes the genetically modified mosquito, chose for its test site.

When a diver who was also a volunteer for the Reef Environmental Education Foundation saw a fish that looked out of place in the waters off Dania Beach in October, she sent a photo to REEF, a marine conservation nonprofit based in Key Largo.

Most voters in the Florida Keys said in a Nov. 8 referendum that they were in favor of releasing genetically modified mosquitoes in the Keys.

People in the Keys have been living alongside Key deer for a long time. And for ages, wildlife officials have implored people: Don't feed the deer.

An argument that has been taking place in Mosquito Control board meetings, hotel conference rooms and Facebook comment strings finally moved to the ballot box on Tuesday.

With most of the vote in (32 of 33 precincts) the GMO mosquito question had split results.

The first Florida trial of the Wolbachia bacteria to combat Aedes aegypti mosquitoes has been approved for the Florida Keys.

Aedes aegypti are the mosquitoes responsible for transmitting the Zika virus. They can also carry dengue fever and chikingunya.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services approved MosquitoMate's request for a trial of Wolbachia as a method of mosquito control in the Florida Keys.

While Florida Keys residents debate the use of genetically modified mosquitoes ahead of a November referendum, a new survey finds that a majority of Floridians supports the concept.

  A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of a tattoo parlor owner and against the city of Key West's attempt to block a new tattoo business from opening in the city's historic district.

The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that tattoos and tattooing are artistic expression, protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

  Fifty-seven species of fish and wildlife are so rare or face such threats that they are considered "imperiled" by the state of Florida.

  In July 2014, Ellen Engelson's leg broke spontaneously, weakened from radiation treatments years before.

She lives in Key West,  so she went to the emergency room at the only hospital within 50 miles. But because her leg needed specialized care, she had to get to a hospital on the mainland.

Getting to a trauma center quickly can be critical, and in the Florida Keys, there are no trauma centers.

That leaves you the option of being airlifted out.   And that can cost you nothing -- or tens of thousands of dollars. 

But Monroe County is trying to make sure patients have the chance to choose that first financial option. 

The lead scientist on a study that surveyed the health of Caribbean coral reefs over 50 years says climate change is not the most severe threat facing coral reefs.

The Florida Keys reef is among the unhealthiest reefs in the Caribbean, said Jeremy Jackson, who grew up in South Florida and first visited the Keys in the late 1940s.

In the fight against mosquitoes in the Florida Keys, domestic inspector Carrie Atwood has a few indispensable tools. She carries a dipper — essentially, a plastic cup at the end of a stick. She has a flashlight for looking into the backs of plants and pots. And she has a turkey baster.

"That's good for getting into bromeliads, which is a plant that holds water at the base of the leaf," Atwood said. "We use that to dip in there or just any other kind of tight space where the dipper won't go."

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