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Your weekly slice of island life.


Hello Key Biscayne!

Finally a bit of cold. How nice is it to be able to crack all your windows and turn off your AC for a week? Wait, what? You’ve been running your AC this whole time? Jesus H. double hockey sticks.

It’s also the time of year when you might get a swell off the southern tip of Key Biscayne:

Key rat Alex Serrano surfing at Fowey Rocks Light November 2019Key rat Alex Serrano shredding at Fowey Light last weekend. 📸Henry Cisneros

It’s beach talk all the way down from here (with pics!), so put on your snorkel.🏊‍♂️

Today is Give Miami Day. It’s a day where all your social media blows up with Miami nonprofits asking you to give them money. Now, you could give money to save the whales, or you could give money to The Rag. Island Media, a KB nonprofit, throws The Rag a few bucks for each newsletter. Throw ‘em a few bucks, tell ‘em it’s for the newsletter, and you can expect 25% more emojis in the future.

(More info)

Promote your own thing.

Are the beaches really more dirty than ever?

Short answer: yes. Medium-length answer: yes, but they’ve kinda always been dirty. Long answer: read on.

At last week’s water quality workshop, in certain letters to the Islander, in the chats, and on the street, there’s this hyperbolic chatter that goes something like this: “I’ve lived here for 20+ years. The beaches used to be pristine, and now they’re disgusting!”

But is that really true? We’ve got some data from the Florida Dept. of Health, and it seems to paint a different picture. More on that in a bit.

Download data: FDOH Dade Beaches 2000-2q2019

The seaweed
Key Biscayne beach has always had seaweed. It’s natural and part of the ecosystem.

Key Biscayne beach seaweed 2012Seaweed? Seaweed never changes. 2012

Key Biscayne beach seaweed 2012Our own cliffs of Dover. 2012

The seaweed has been getting worse, due to a variety of factors out of our control as a Village, but there’s been bad seaweed seasons longer than most people’s recollection.

Wipe your feet
Does no one remember having to clean tar off your feet after going to the beach? Up until around 2000 it was totally normal.

Key Biscayne Key Colony tar wipes and sign 2012Were you just swimming in tanker discharge? Don't worry, there's a wipe for that. Key Colony 2012

Some beaches on this planet have naturally occurring tar, but that’s not what was happening on Key Biscayne. It came from all the ships coming to and fro the port. You might say that tar isn’t the same as bacteria, but if a ship is freely dumping something so conspicuous that it was normal to have wipes and signs at the beach, what do you think they were doing with their toilet water? 🏄🏽‍♀️

Just give me the data

What does the data say? Well, there’s a lot of it, and it does point to a recent uptick in bacteria, but it tells us a lot about the past also.

They started sampling the water in 2000. This was before the Swim Guide app existed, before chat chats, etc. If there was a problem you would have never known. You would have never known until about 2 years ago. 🤳

Here’s two beach site stats:

Bacteria: Total Poor Days (Over 70.5cfu/100ml)
Year Cape Florida Crandon Park
2000 0 0
2001 0 1
2002 1 4
2003 2 1
2004 1 5
2005 0 8
2006 0 8
2007 1 3
2008 1 3
2009 0 6
2010 0 8
2011 0 N/A
2012 0 N/A
2013 1 5
2014 1 2
2015 2 3
2016 1 8
2017 2 7
2018 1 7

What can we glean from this? For one, Crandon Park samples tend to be dirtier than Cape Florida. But if you look at those Crandon Park samples, in the mid 2000s they look a lot like what’s happening recently.

If you actually look through the spreadsheet, you’ll also notice that the bacteria levels don’t gradually increase and then gradually dissipate. Instead, you’ll have one day that’s perfectly clean at 2/100 the next at 300/100 and the next at 7/100. And it’s different at each part of the beach. Unless you know the sample for that day, in that spot, you’re out there playing Russian poolette. 💩🔫

Moral of the story

The point here is not that it’s cyclical or anything like that, but that you’ve always been swimming in dirty water, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The difference today is that for the first time ever, our Village government is trying to figure out what could be the cause, and are actively trying to stop it.

Next time some hysterical moran tells you it used to be so good, point them here (subscribe!) and tell ‘em you wanna see the receipts.


Around Town

  • Today 11/21
  • 🗯 Tell the mayor what you really think (Village Hall)
  • 👨‍🌾 How it's made: tilapia (RSMAS)
  • 🤑 Give money day (The internets)
  • 👩‍👦 How can I reach these kids? (Community Center)
  • 👨‍👦 How can I reach these keeeds? (Ocean Club)
  • Friday 11/22
  • 🍷 An entire festival for wine & cheese, but it's not free (The Links)
  • 🍸 Cocktails for a cause (Beach Club)
  • Sunday 11/24
  • 🧘‍♀️ Do some yoga, walk around, whatever (Bill Baggs)

Last Week's Sales

Location SQFT Rooms Prev Price
OC CT3 1103 2500 3/4 '13 $2.43m $2.16m
Towers E1203 1409 2/2 '09 $467.5k $775k
Mar Azul 3DS 1889 3/2 '97 $337.5k $669k
Blue Pelican #501 1065 2/2 '77 $58k $412k

One more thing

Floridians have until Friday to comment on whether the state should set limits for toxic algae in water (Thanks, Rumya!). While toxic algae isn’t the same problem we have in our waters, you know it’s been affecting other beaches.

If you want to fire off a quick email to add your voice in support, there’s the email below. Just tell them you live in Key Biscayne and the beaches here have never been dirtier 😏, so you support a limit on toxic algae as a precaution.



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Next week we profile the hobos on the island 🧔🏼. Stay tuned!

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