Stranded Diver Reunited With Buoy That Saved His Life

For more than 40 years, mooring buoys have been saving the coral reefs of the Florida Keys. Now, they have saved human life. After freediver Dylan Gartenmayer was stranded in waters off Key West on January 26, 2023, the swift current carried him into Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary’s Western Sambo Ecological Reserve, which features several mooring buoys used by recreational boaters to tie up in lieu of dropping anchors on coral. With his knife, Gartenmayer cut loose three of Western Sambo’s 18-inch buoys and fashioned a makeshift raft that kept him afloat until his family found him in near darkness. Understandably, the buoys were cast away during the rescue. One week later, Sugarloaf boater Ronnie Rupp found the buoys washed up on shore and reached out to the sanctuary. The buoy team is scheduled to replace the moorings in the coming days, but one buoy—W1—is staying behind, and on Tuesday, February 7, 2023, will be presented to Gartenmayer as a memento.

Video and still images will be available by approximately 3 p.m. at this link:

Who:               Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary buoy team and Dylan Gartenmayer

What:              Presentation of mooring buoy that helped save his life

When:             Tuesday, Approximately 1 p.m.

Where:           FKNMS HQ, 33 E. Quay Drive, Key West, FL 33040

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