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Free weekly lecture series about nature at Pennekamp begins Jan. 8 in Key Largo

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The 23rd consecutive season of Key Largo's popular “Delicate Balance of Nature” talks kicks off Wednesday, Jan. 8, with Lad Akins, Reef Environmental Education Foundation director of special projects, discussing the background, biology and ecology of lionfish.

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Twelve evening presentations are planned for the lecture series' season, exploring Florida Keys history, ecology and the island chain's fragile environment. Each presentation is staged at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park visitor center, mile marker 102.5 oceanside, and starts at 7:30 p.m.

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock State Park sponsors the free-admission informal talks, presented by field experts in aquaculture, marine and geological sciences, ornithology, ecology and biology. Talks continue Wednesday evenings through March 26 and include a wide variety of topics such as bird migration, underwater archaeology, Everglades restoration, dragonflies and carnivorous plants.

January highlights include a look at how clouds are formed, their types and importance in weather forecasting with a presentation of special atmospheric optical phenomena.

Among February's presentations are those on "big flight" events, as documented by the Florida Keys Hawkwatch migration-monitoring project, and current research and conservation of the oceans' largest ray species, the spotted eagle ray.

In March attendees can learn about the remains of the Spanish pirate-slaver Guerrero and the British Royal Navy's HMS Nimble, ships that wrecked in 1827 on a reef off Key Largo. In addition, Islamorada underwater photographers Carlos and Allison Estape are to present a stunning visual experience and share their love of the sea.

Park gates open at 7 p.m. for all lectures. Visitors are urged to arrive on time to assure seating in the wheelchair-accessible auditorium. Attendees can bring a cushion for added comfort.

Lecture series information: or 305-451-9570 Key Largo visitor information: or 800-822-1088 Social: · ·