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Underwater Easter egg hunt set for Islamorada

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Diving for Easter Eggs? You bet. The clear water off Islamorada in the Florida Keys is the location for the annual Underwater Easter Egg Hunt, open to divers and snorkelers who want to "egg-splore."

Money raised during the annual undersea hunt April 20 benefits Kids in Special Situations, providing gifts and cheer throughout the year to the area's needy children.

The event's host, Captain Spencer Slate, recently renamed his popular Atlantis Dive Center "Captain Slate's Scuba Adventures" and relocated to mile marker 90.7 oceanside in Tavernier at the Casa Mar Village shopping enclave. Since 1978, Slate has offered dive and snorkel trips, underwater weddings, and glass-bottom boat packages in the Keys.

Slate also is known for staging offbeat dive events such as the Easter "egg-stravaganza." Each year participants in this popular underwater game of hide and seek are awarded prizes, including a particularly valuable goody basket for the fortunate finder of a "golden egg."

Prior to the search, Captain Slate dons a giant bunny suit and dive gear and hides brightly colored Easter eggs for eager bounty hunters. Real eggs and nontoxic dyes are used to avoid negative environmental impacts.

Boats full of egg seekers then head out to a secret location adjacent to shallow reefs in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, where the philanthropic revelers take the plunge to find the hard-boiled hoard.

A morning two-tank trip, the dive excursion is specially priced at $65 per certified diver, including tanks and weights, $30 per adult snorkeler and $20 per child snorkeler, including gear. Divers and snorkelers are asked to check in at 8 a.m. at Captain Slate's Scuba Adventures. Up to three boats are scheduled to depart at 8:30 a.m.

When you go

The drive to Islamorada takes about three hours from Fort Lauderdale. Event information: www.captainslate.com. Participants must pre-register.

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