• Purple, yellow, gold and orange sponges and soft corals wave against a turquioise sea.

    Biscayne

    National Park Florida

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  • 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.

Biscayne National Park Gears Up for Most Dangerous Weekend of the Year

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Date: September 11, 2012
Contact: Gary Bremen, 305-230-1144, x007
Contact: Christiana Admiral, 305-230-1144, x018

Officials are gearing up to protect visitors, resources, and the very identity of Biscayne National Park during Columbus Day Weekend (October 5-8), traditionally the most dangerous weekend of the year. The 57th Annual Columbus Day Regatta occurs outside of NPS boundaries; however, in recent years, thousands of revelers have gathered within the park near Elliott Key for informal gatherings that are increasingly rowdy. This makes it difficult for law enforcement to maintain a safe, low impact visitor experience. In the past 10 years, six individuals have been killed in boating accidents during Columbus Day Weekend parties. Seagrass beds within Biscayne have sustained serious damage from vessel groundings. Excessive litter has been observed in the area of the anchorage.   

"A weekend boating in Biscayne National Park is a chance to experience spectacular, yet fragile, resources protected by the National Park System's largest marine park," said Biscayne National Park Superintendent Mark Lewis. "Boaters planning to enjoy Columbus Day Weekend in Biscayne National Park are urged to appoint a designated skipper, be alert for swimmers and for boaters operating under the influence, avoid operating at night, maintain control of trash, and obey laws and regulations." Brochures and frequently asked questions for a Columbus Day Weekend visit to Biscayne National Park are available at www.nps.gov/bisc.

What should be an enjoyable weekend out on the water is increasingly becoming a serious matter for law enforcement, with multiple agencies coordinating with the NPS to enforce laws, such as "rafting" of vessels, excessive noise violations, and illegal commercial activities. With zero tolerance enforcement in place and fines easily exceeding $5,000, it is important for the public to exercise good judgment during Columbus Day Weekend in Biscayne National Park.  

Did You Know?

The Sweeting Family

For 50 years, four generations of the Sweeting family thrived on Biscayne National Park's Elliott Key. Here they raised pineapples, salvaged wrecked ships, went to school, worshipped and played at the northern end of Florida's Keys.