Chasing Coral - John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo, FL

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Hey Readers,

Recently I had an amazing opportunity to collaborate with Share a Little Sunshine at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, Florida. We got together to inspire others to show their love for Florida, aka #LoveFL. It seemed like a perfect job for me: swimming in the ocean, taking photos, and showcasing how amazing my home state is.

After the one hour drive from Miami, we arrived at John Pennekamp equipped and ready for an amazing day in the sun and sea.

We booked a snorkeling tour aboard the Dolphin to take us 6 miles east of Key Largo to the Dry Rocks reef. Once I got in the water, I was instantly the happiest person on the planet. I looked down at the corals 15 feet below my flippers and immediately started recording video on my GoPro Hero 5 black. Simultaneously, in my other hand, I was snapping photos using my trusty old Fujifilm xp80 water resistant camera. You might be wondering why I chose to use them both, and the answer is simple. I really couldn't decide what I wanted to use and I definitely did not want to miss a shot. Plus each camera has a different field of view, allowing me to capture the scene differently.

I got sooo excited when I saw this large school of Atlantic Blue Tangs! It's hard to see in these photos but they were a brilliant shade of blue-ish purple. Look closely at the first photo and you might spot 3 different species of parrotfish too!

I followed this Queen Parrotfish through a thick batch of colorful corals. The vibrant variety of colors reminded me of the opening scene of Finding Nemo...

My mom even snapped this photo of me swimming after it!

This particular reef is known for the Christ of the Abyss statue. It is 9 feet tall, weighs 573 pounds, and made of bronze that sits in 25 feet deep water. The finger tips are about 16 feet below the surface. The base of the statue is 9 tons of concrete, making sure it doesn't go anywhere in rough weather.

If you're brave enough like Lizi and I, you can swim down all the way and give Jesus a high five. (Please don't touch any other part of the statue besides the finger tips. The whole rest of the body is covered in Fire Coral, and will leave you with intense pain and stinging wherever your skin came in contact with it.)

This was honestly one of the best days of my life. Every second I was in the water, swimming between the corals, felt like I belonged there. I'm so grateful to Share a Little Sunshine for taking me on this experience. It was my first time swimming in coral reefs, and it definitely won't be my last. 



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