My, name is Antonio Balladares. I’ve been in this beautiful state/ country for 24 years, going into 25 years in October. I first set foot here in 1989 with my mother and 3 other siblings. We immigrated from gorgeous Nicaragua, we left because of the war. I’ve been swimming, fishing and exploring these beautiful waters since I can remember. My parents would visit the beach all the time, I remember us swimming and BBQ carne asada. But, what really got me going and what really got my passion established was when I was in middle school.
My school sent me to a camp to the museum of science and there we went to the sea grass beds at Virginia Key Beach and John Penny camp every day for the whole summer. We would identify all the different grasses, sea creatures and fishes. I remember not knowing what was going on, but I was in AWED X 10 at the things I was seeing. From then back in 1996, I have been hook and dumbfound by the creations of God. Finally, what made it all concrete was working for Miami-Dade County Parks and Recreation Eco Tourism Department. While working there I was taken too many beautiful training areas.
I was introduced to Miami beach’s more in-depth, Crandon Park was my backyard beach. There I swam, snorkel, kayaked, canoed and explored unrestrained. I would visit the famed Petrified mangrove reef and the half-moon wreck on a regular basis. I loved seeing the seasonal animals come and go. In all I could say that I have swam many areas and many years in Key Biscayne waters. Deering Estae and it’s water where my home also. Then, I was taken to the Everglades and finally to the Keys and marine life was everywhere, I looked. The underwater coral forest totally stunned me and I have been in love ever since.
If I could, I would protect all reefs like trapper Nelson did with Loxahatchee River, but it would sadden me to keep such beauty to myself. Instead, of such closed minded thinking, I ask, I beg the south Florida community to protect our waters, to enjoy the beauty that has been given to us and our future generations. Please enjoy this beautiful delicate environment and do whatever you can to preserve it.
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