Jim Abbott on Florida Travel
Postcards from Florida
August 13, 2011
Whether by sea or by air, there are plenty of natural diversions in coming months in the Florida Keys.
Let's start in the water, where an underwater art exhibit has debuted on a former Air Force missile-tracking ship sunk as an artificial reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary seven miles south of Key West.
Austrian art photographer Andreas Franke is exhibiting a dozen digitally composited images on the Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, scuttled in May 2009. The 4-by-5-foot photographs stretch along some 200 linear feet of the starboard side of the Vandenberg's weather deck, 93 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.
One picture depicts a girl with a butterfly net trying to capture fish. In another, kickboxers compete next to one of Vandenberg's tracking dishes.
The 20-square-foot images are encased in plexiglass and mounted in stainless steel frames sealed with silicone.
Joe Weatherby, the Key West resident who spearheaded the Vandenberg's sinking, hopes the exhibition can remain in place through the end of the year.
If you're not a diver, the skies will be the backdrop for the 13th annual Florida Keys Birding and Wildlife Festival, slated for Sept. 21-25 at the oceanfront preserve of Curry Hammock State Park at mile marker 56.2 in Marathon. The family event includes field trips and guided interpretive nature walks at sites throughout the Keys.
The festival's primary program starts on Sept. 22 at Key Largo's John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (MM 100), with birder Kimberly Kaufman chatting about her experiences.
Eco-tours and activities on Sept. 24 include free admission to an environmental fair, wildlife art show and family day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Curry Hammock. All-day birding and wildlife photography excursions to Dry Tortugas National Park are set for Sunday, Sept. 25. Reservations are required and space is limited to 20 people per field trip. Festival admission fees haven't been set, but you can check keysbirdingfest.org for details.
For more on the underwater art, visit fla-keys.com.