Boat Tours, Paddle-craft Rentals and Select Conveniences Temporarily Unavailable
Glass-bottom, snorkel, diving and island boat tours, and rentals for canoes and other paddle-craft, are temporarily unavailable. The park is working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and regrets the inconvenience. Limited snack items are available.
Elliott Key Harbor and Campground Closed Until Further Notice
Contractors began work to repair damaged boardwalks and marina at Elliott Key and the visitor center grounds. The marina and campground at Elliott Key are closed until the repairs are complete. University Dock on Elliott Key remains open for day use only. More »
Columbus Day Weekend Recap
Contact: Gary Bremen, 305-230-1144, x007
Biscayne National Park came through the recent Columbus Day Weekend relatively unscathed this year. The weekend is traditionally one of the busiest and most dangerous of the year in the System's largest marine park.
An estimated 700-800 boats gathered in the clear shallow waters off Elliott Key beginning as early as Friday night. The park was enforcing its "Five Boat Rule," which limits the maximum number of boats tied together, and requires a minimum of 100' in between rafts of boats and individual, non-rafted boats. The separation allows for emergency access while at the same time decreasing interaction among attendees in the crowded anchorage.
Wayne Rybeck, Incident Commander over the weekend, says that early enforcement and strong coordination among participating agencies are being credited with the fact that there were no deaths this year (six people have died at the event in the past 10 years), and few injuries. Over 200 law enforcement cases were made over the weekend. Notable incidents include:
A multipronged public information campaign in the weeks leading up to the event included a heavy ranger presence at marinas to distribute information to boaters, a Facebook series on what is appropriate behavior in a national park, and tripling the presence of NPS staff at the annual news conference which was held IN the park this year rather than at the Coast Guard Station in Miami Beach. Large flashing traffic signs at two of the marinas summarized the regulations while boaters waited to launch. Staff searched the internet for commercial operators advertising trips into the party, and contacted the operators before they arrived.
Another addition this year was a trial run of water quality testing. If the tests show increased levels of ammonia, fecal coliform and other indicators of water pollution, the park will seek to do additional testing next year.
The park is indebted to the US Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary, Customs and Border Protection, the State Fish and Game Commission, Miami-Dade Police Department, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, and rangers from Everglades, Big Cypress, Canaveraland Gulf Islands for their assistance in keeping the event under control and protecting park resources.
More background on Columbus Day Weekend in Biscayne National Park is available on the park's website at www.nps.gov /bisc/planyourvisit/columbus-day-weekend.htm. For additional information about the park, visit www.nps.gov/bisc. For regular updates from the park, "like" us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/BiscayneNPS , or follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/BiscayneNPS.
Did You Know?
Many sea turtles live in the waters of Biscayne National Park and often nest on the park's few sandy beaches. Park employees monitor nesting beaches each summer to protect new nests from raccoons and other predators. More...