Building Artificial Reefs for Life

JUPITER, FL – June 29, 2017 – There’s no doubt that one of
Jupiter’s most treasured natural assets is its marine environment, which
boasts a sui generis of natural beauty. Because of it, its local
community along with its many visitors from all around often find
themselves taking advantage of all the perks that these Caribbean blue
waters offer, including snorkeling, surfing, and swimming. Save for
rainy, tempestuous conditions you will see a tapestry of boats coursing
their way through the Inlet, around the Loxahatchee, or out in the
Intracoastal Waterway. Some of these boats will be equipped with fishing
gear and head on over to the Gulfstream, where marine life roams, and
passengers will be partaking in a fishing expedition. Other boats might
go offshore for scuba diving and those who dive in will indubitably get a
closer look at species constituting precious life under the sea.
Unfortunately, as these benefits attract more and more people, Jupiter’s
natural resources such as ocean reefs can get overburdened and impacted
in a negative manner.

An organization that strives to tackle this very problem is Jupiter’s
own Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation, an award-winning 501(c)(3) that
strives to enhance and preserve the marine environment in northern Palm
Beach County by building artificial reefs that consist of colossal
concrete-based modules to protect and expand marine habitats. The
organization was started in 2014 by Scott and Martha Harris, following
the tragic death of their son, Andrew. The foundation has become a
channel to protect the marine environment that Andrew cherished.

“Our reefs aren’t getting any bigger but the population is growing by
the day. There’s not enough habitat in our offshore reefs for all the
spawn of marine life species’ to develop. By building these reefs and
creating these spawning habitats that promote life, we honor Andrew,”
affirms Martha. “This is his legacy.”

The Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation teamed up with the Palm Beach County
Department of Environmental Resource Management (ERM), who oversaw the
creation of the reefs and paid for the deployment of the donated
materials, supporting the foundation’s pursuit of enhancing the marine
environment
.

HIS LEGACY Andrew

THE FIRST REEF

The foundation’s first reef was created in August 2015. It consists of 40 seven-foot-tall, four-ton modules that were built as Bahamian coral head replicas, which were lowered one at a time by crane into the ocean at a depth of 40 feet, a mile and a half northeast from the Jupiter Inlet, near Jupiter Island and the Jupiter Lighthouse. Many of the modules contain a plaque with the names of those who donated to bring this project to fruition. Other plaques, including one weighing 1,400 lbs., bear the Foundation’s name in commemoration of their initial grand scale effort. There is also  a plaque in remembrance of Andrew.

Scott notes that in mere months, the Foundation’s aim became a reality as all types of marine life species’ began making the reef their home. But that was merely the beginning—there was room for improvement, and room for growth.

“Ideally, what you want is to deploy the reef modules on thin sand (less than 12 inches of sand) before you get down to the hard bottom,” points out Scott. “But that’s hard to find in areas that are permitted for artificial reefs.”

A year later, through the efforts of Scott, his wife, his family, the Foundation, Palm Beach County, the town of Jupiter, and companies, individuals, and foundations purveying charitable donations, a second reef emerged.

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‘NO SHOES’ REEF

For their next project, Scott and the Foundation’s team explored different possible sites within the grids where artificial reefs could be deployed. They would scuba dive around the Jupiter Shallow grid, which is 40 to 50 feet in depth, and surveyed the area extensively looking for the optimal thin sand location. Just outside the Jupiter Shallow grid and 2,000 feet southeast from the first reef, Scott then found an ideal thin sand site for building artificial reefs. The site is located on an actual reef that was smothered and utterly destroyed by sand decades ago, and the Foundation is, in a sense, rehabilitating the former natural reef. A donated professional sub-bottom survey identified that the new site is a 1,800-by-300-foot flat plateau of hard bottom covered by two to six inches of sand that is located on top of a ridge surrounded by deep sand. But when you are scuba diving around the bottom, all you see is an endless flat plain of sand.

“It was a huge boost for us to find this site; it is ideal for our modules because they won’t sink into the sand,” says Scott. “It was discovered by luck, pounding five-foot spears into the sand on the ocean bottom in 55 feet of water with a sledgehammer, and more importantly, by perseverance.”

The site was initially outside of the permit area, but Palm Beach County worked closely with the Corps of Engineers for a year to expand the permit and have deployment approved on this specific site.

For the 2016 second reef, a new and improved “Coral Head” module design was developed with a blown cement approach that includes many tiers and small spaces for marine inhabitants to find safety and security. In addition to both these modules, the Foundation designed and built several styles of prototype concrete block models and deployed limestone-encrusted reef pyramids.

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 scubaandrewjpg

“Fish want protection; they want a safe habitat with a roof over their head where they can get out of the current, where they won’t get eaten, and where the big fish won’t find them. That’s what drives our design,” says Scott.

The first phase of the rehabilitation project took place in August of 2016 and it included the deployment of 100 modules: 50 limestone reef pyramids, 35 coral head replicas, and 15 unique concrete block prototypes. In addition to the modules, the county also put down 250 tons of limestone boulders. According to Scott, one day after the deployment, the current was interacting with the modules and rock pile and was already scouring away the thin layer of sand and exposing the underlying bedrock.

“That was exactly the effect we had hoped for,” notes Scott. “We have high hopes that our modules will not only flourish with life, but will also bring the hard bottom between the modules back to life by scouring off the smothering sand.”

Scott also adds that he’s amazed by the variety of marine life that has found its way into these modules, from eels to porcupine fish—and all manner of local fish. In fact, Scott has compiled a survey of over 70 species he has photographed on the reefs.

“How did they get here, how did they find our reef? I have no idea, but it fascinates me: The mystery of the reef’s growth,” says Scott. “Additionally, Gulfstream-driven currents interact with the modules to scour away the smothering sand that prevents marine life from growing on the underlying rock. A few months later, the modules are covered with marine life and are teeming with fish as nature takes advantage of our work to rehabilitate itself. You put them down and nature helps these habitats grow organically.”

Just before the 2016 deployment, the Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation received a significant donation from the No Shoes Reef Project, which is a partnership between Country Superstar Kenny Chesney and ENGEL Coolers. In recognition of their contribution, the Foundation gave them partial naming rights, and, thus, the 2016 reef creation is known as the Andrew “Red” Harris No Shoes Reef.

The second phase of the reef rehabilitation, which will take place in August 2017 is slated to have 134 modules and 500 tons of boulders placed on the site. Naming rights to a 170-ton boulder reef will be given to those who contribute $20,000 to the Foundation.

THE SNORKEL TRAIL

While their concurrent venture to build their offshore reef in Jupiter keeps the Foundation and the Harris family busy, they also wanted to contribute their reefs for inshore ecosystems. And they did. In November 2016, they donated 15 “lagoon-sized” (4.5-feet tall instead of seven feet) coral head replica modules for placement on the world-renowned Phil Foster Park Snorkeling Trail at the Blue Heron Bridge, located just inside the Palm Beach Inlet. Not only do the modules add more beauty to the trail, the reef also provides a layer of safety that it did not have before.

“The county was getting complaints about people getting lost or not knowing where to go while snorkeling the trail,” says Scott. “So we agreed to provide some of our modules with embedded numbered plaques to help snorkelers navigate the trail, avoid the channel, and improve safety overall.”

The reef structures serve as guideposts, but moreover, they allow snorkelers from all walks of life to see the Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation’s work firsthand inside a lifeguarded Palm Beach County park. It will be interesting to see if, after a while, snorkelers on the Trail can tell whether these reefs are natural or artificial.

“I hope that some folks that are snorkeling down there can help us clean those plaques from time to time,” says Scott with a chuckle.

 Scott Harris received the Loggerheatd Marinelife Centers 2016 Blue Ambassador of the Year Award which recognizes a person who has made significant contributions in ocean conservation in greater South Florida through volunteer-related acivitiesOne of the Foundations modules being deployed into the offshore site

CREATING LIFE

The mystery of how plant life, fish, and other species help these artificial reefs grow and blend with nature is only surpassed by the miracle of creating life. That, in the end, is the entire purpose of the Foundation: “Building Artificial Reefs for Life.”

“Our offshore reefs create life where there otherwise would be nothing but vast sand plains stretching out for miles,” says Scott. “We work hard to make these structures robust enough to withstand rough underwater conditions.”

The Foundation’s hard work does not go unrecognized. Recently, Scott received the Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s 2016 Blue Ambassador of the Year award. The Blue Ambassador of the Year Award honors
a person who has made significant contributions in ocean conservation in greater South Florida through volunteer-related activities.

“It was an honor to receive the award,” says Scott. “But I think our great volunteers and all the people who have gone out of their way to help fund our work building our reefs, as well as those who contribute their expertise and help drive attention to the Andrew ‘Red’ Harris Foundation, deserve a lot of credit too.”

Contributing to the Jupiter community is a core value of the Harris family and the Foundation. Through volunteer efforts and charitable donations, the Foundation can maintain it’s focus on the goal of enhancing Jupiter’s marine environment and becoming an enduring conduit for funding and building artificial reefs in the Jupiter area and northern Palm Beach County. Scott adds that when forming the organization he “wanted the reefs to contribute to Jupiter as Andrew’s life would have.”

For more information on how to make a charitable donation to the Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation, please visit www.andrewredharrisfoundation.org.

Article source: http://www.injupiter.com/jupiter-florida-stories/building-artificial-reefs-for-life-/125

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Three months after debut, Jupiter boaters weigh in on new boating park

“I like how the ramps are less steep than the ones at Burt Reynolds Park,” said Ethan Randell, who was launching his 22-footer for a trip down the Intracoastal Waterway with two friends on a recent Thursday morning. “The ramps have a rougher surface, making them less slippery. And there’s lots of boat trailer parking,”

Article source: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/local/three-months-after-debut-jupiter-boaters-weigh-new-boating-park/7bVGW9UqRoxVXyNLtkwivN/

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Mom of Teen Missing at Sea with Friend Lacked Proper Judgment …

Investigators with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement say the mother of one of two teen boys who disappeared during a fishing trip nearly two years ago showed an “egregious lapse of judgement and failure to exercise due care.”

In a newly released report obtained by PEOPLE, the FDLE says the actions – or lack thereof – of Carlson “Carly” Black, mother of 14-year-old Austin Stephanos, “had the effect of culminating in the disappearance of both boys who are now believed to have perished.”

Austin and his friend Perry Cohen, also 14, vanished into the waters off South Florida’s Jupiter Inlet on July 24, 2015.

Investigators found probable cause that Black violated Florida State Statute 827.03, which governs abuse, aggravated abuse and neglect of a child. Top factors include evidence that Black allowed her son and Perry to travel offshore in Austin’s “minimally equipped” 19-foot 1978 SeaCraft knowing that the boat lacked basic safety devices. The report says Black also knew Perry’s parents forbade him to go offshore without an adult, waited more than two hours to notify Cohen’s parents that the boys were missing, and failed to notify emergency or law enforcement agencies.

The last known communication from either of the boys occurred at 11:24 on the morning of their disappearance, when Austin texted Black and his father, Blu Stephanos, Black’s ex-husband.

“What’s up? I am checking in. I’m just out here fishing,” the text read.


Coast Guard

Records show Black testified that around 2:00, she had become aware of a “quick summer storm that rolled in fast … and was fierce.” Realizing that Austin hadn’t checked in again, she began calling and texting her son, as well as Diane Stephanos, Black’s ex-mother-in-law and Austin’s grandmother, whose home the boys visited to pick up tackle and supplies earlier that morning. However, records show that it wasn’t until 3:05 p.m. that she notified her ex-husband that she’d been unable to reach Austin.

“Call me buddy,” Blu texted to Austin after hearing from Black. Then again a few minutes later: “Hey buddy, got me and your mom really worried about you. Please call immediately or text back.”

With no response, Blu Stephanos set out on his own boat to search for the boys himself. It wasn’t until 4:12 p.m. that Black called Perry’s mother, Pamela Cohen, to let her know that the boys were missing. It was Pamela’s husband and Perry’s de facto stepfather, Nick Korniloff, who immediately called 911.

Black’s call to Pamela came “over two hours after they knew or should have known that the boys were in imminent danger,” investigators wrote, adding that it was Kornilloff’s call that prompted the massive, multi-agency search and rescue operation that made headlines worldwide.

RELATED VIDEO: Inside the Legal Case Involving the Two Florida Teens Lost at Sea

When reached by PEOPLE Pamela Cohen and Nick Korniloff declined to comment yet, saying only that they needed time to process the latest news. The Stephanos and Black families did not respond to calls seeking comment.

However, in an interview with investigators, Korniloff “emphatically reiterated his sincere belief that critical hours were lost due to the unexplainable delay in initiating an aggressive, coordinated and effective search and rescue operation soon after the storm,” the report reads. “He is convinced that this fact critically altered the possibilities of rescuing the boys while the opportunity still existed.”

Investigators write that the boat, “while by all accounts fundamentally sound, was not equipped with any electronic or communications equipment, such as VHF radio, GPS or EPIRB, which would have made a successful rescue infinitely more probable.”

The report pointedly adds that Black and her husband, Bubba Black, own and manage Jupiter’s Grand Slam Sport Fishing Supply, which means they likely had full knowledge of and access to marine safety and communications equipment. Plus, family members knew that the boys had narrowly avoided being caught in a storm while fishing on the same boat the previous day.

Still, FDLE officials say Black does not yet face criminal charges. Assistant State Attorney Greg Kridos concluded that, despite strong indication of poor judgment, investigators found insufficient proof to satisfy statutory language and applicable case law relating to Florida’s child neglect statute. Specifically, he says that boating on the open seas is not an “inherently dangerous activity,” which prosecutors consider a critical component in levying criminal charges of child neglect.

As it stands now, investigators have requested that the case be officially closed. However, should state officials choose to continue the case, investigators say Florida’s State Climatologist David Zierden is prepared to produce a comprehensive report detailing potentially contributing factors of the storm, and that subject matter experts with the U.S. Coast Guard or St. Petersburg’s Eckerd College Search and Rescue Team could provide expert testimony as to the effect that a delayed overdue vessel report could have on the statistical probability of a search and rescue operation.

“This would be of probative value if the State intends to prove that Ms. Black’s hours-long delay in reporting the boys’ disappearance to Perry Cohen’s parents and her failure to report the overdue vessel to the authorities in a timely manner may have diminished the likelihood of the boys being rescued safely,” the report reads.

Former State Representative Irving Slosberg, who requested the investigation, tells PEOPLE that he agrees with the FDLE’s decision to withhold charges. Now retired, he says he’ll ask his daughter, State Representative Emily Slosberg, to consider drafting legislation to improve investigation of missing-at-sea cases.

“I’m going to recommend key legislation mandating that the FDLE, rather than the FWC, investigate all cases of children missing at sea,” he says, noting that the agency has far greater resources for adequately addressing such cases.

Austin and Perry remain listed in the National Database for Missing and Exploited Children and investigators say they’ll continue to investigate any new leads.

Meanwhile, both families operate foundations that carry their sons’ names and focus on water safety education and legislation. The Perry J. Cohen Wetlands Laboratory, an outdoor classroom concept, is planned for Jupiter Community High School, where Perry would have graduated in 2019.

Article source: http://people.com/human-interest/mom-of-teen-missing-at-sea-lacked-proper-judgment-report-concludes/

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Jupiter Restaurant partly owned by Michael Jordan takes shape

MJ2

 

Exterior work has started on 1000 North, the waterfront restaurant in Jupiter that will be partly owned by former NBA star Michael Jordan.

Read the full story in The Palm Beach Post.



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After tragedy at sea, a sharp divide emerges between teens’ families …

Before Tequesta teens Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen disappeared at sea nearly two years ago, the 14-year-old boys had built a solid friendship along the waters near their homes.

Pals since they were 10, the kids often fished and boated together and used social media to stay in touch.

Their parents also got along well. Perry once took a trip to the Bahamas with Austin and his family, and there was talk of a joint-family fishing foray to the islands.

But newly released records show the families’ good relations ended the moment Austin’s mom called Perry’s mom late on the afternoon of July 24, 2015, to report the kids were missing in the ocean and had not been heard from for about five hours.

Less than three months after the disappearance, Perry’s parents asked Austin’s parents not to connect the boys’ photos “in any written or electronic format.” For public vigils marking the one-year anniversary of the tragedy, the families were separated. And a lawsuit was filed by Perry’s mom to have a judge referee what turned out to be a fruitless search for data on Austin’s recovered, saltwater-destroyed iPhone.

Still, the South Florida community that rallied behind the families and shed tears with them largely has viewed the boys’ legacy as being inextricably linked. Their almost certain deaths — no bodies were ever found — became the impetus for a new state law on boater safety that takes effect July 1.

Legal battles underway

Today, the teens’ biological and stepparents communicate only in legal proceedings, and Perry’s estate is considering a wrongful death lawsuit against Austin’s mother, over negligence allegations.

Late last year, Black filed a petition in federal court seeking to limit her liability under maritime laws to $500 — the cost of the damaged vessel she owns, an 18-foot, single-engine, 1978 SeaCraft.

The mother contended that the loss of life “occurred through no fault or negligence” by her and that the boat was properly equipped and in good condition, so all claims against her should be capped.

New report blames weather for teens' disappearance at sea in 2015

The fishing boat motor was working and weather was likely to blame for two teens going missing after leaving the Jupiter Inlet nearly two years ago, according to investigators’ findings released Thursday.

While investigators say a storm squall capsized the 19-foot boat carrying 14-year-olds Austin…

The fishing boat motor was working and weather was likely to blame for two teens going missing after leaving the Jupiter Inlet nearly two years ago, according to investigators’ findings released Thursday.

While investigators say a storm squall capsized the 19-foot boat carrying 14-year-olds Austin…

(Andy Reid)

A judge is expected to make a ruling on the request, which is opposed by Perry’s biological parents, Pamela Cohen and Phil Cohen.

A pleading in the case filed last month by Perry’s mother offered a possible preview of a state lawsuit against Black, once the federal court matter is resolved.

Cohen accused Black of being clearly responsible for the boys’ deaths, in part because the boat was not kept in a seaworthy condition and had no radio equipment on board. According to authorities, severe weather reached the area about 1:30 p.m., when the boat was offshore.

“Due to the failure to properly equip the vessel, Austin and Perry had no way to mayday as the storm was approaching,” wrote attorney Guy Rubin, representing Pamela Cohen.

The same pleading also accused Austin’s mom of failing to monitor the boys’ use of her boat, “such that they were able to leave the safety of easily navigable waters.”

Records show Austin was the more experienced of the two boys on the water. He completed a boater education course in March 2012, nearly 2½ years before Perry.

Perry’s parents have said they permitted him to go fishing with Austin only on inland waters that day or any day, never off the coast.

Bahamas rumors

Authorities have investigated social media allegations, including Snapchat messages with other friends, that the boys were instead trying that day to journey to the Bahamas.

An attorney for Perry’s father has filed a court pleading with a map depicting a route from the Jupiter Inlet to the Bahamas. The lawyer wrote one of Austin’s unnamed friends had this map, which was obtained by investigators.

Families of teens lost at sea await boat investigation report

Clues into last year’s disappearance at sea of Tequesta teens Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen still are being investigated — but some findings are expected soon, lawyers told a Palm Beach County judge Tuesday.

Since May, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department…

Clues into last year’s disappearance at sea of Tequesta teens Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen still are being investigated — but some findings are expected soon, lawyers told a Palm Beach County judge Tuesday.

Since May, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department…

(Marc Freeman)

But authorities say there is no clear evidence of an attempted trip. A U.S. Coast Guard report made public last December notes that an examination of the boys’ iPads, supplied by the parents within days of their disappearance, yielded no information about plans for a Bahamian excursion.

The teens last were seen buying about $100 worth of gas at a Jupiter marina.

Austin’s phone disconnected from the internet about 1:16 p.m., just before the storm passed over the area, according to phone records.

Their boat was initially found about 67 nautical miles off the coast of Daytona Beach two days after they disappeared, but it drifted away because it wasn’t secured.

In early August 2015, a Sarasota-based flight school found life vests and a seat cushion near Savannah, Ga. A canine named “Quincy” alerted to the boys’ scents on the vests, according to the findings of a private search firm hired by the Cohen family.

Blu Stephanos, father of Austin, has told investigators that the Cohen family has “consistently refused” to share the firm’s report, and said he was met with resistance from the start of the search off Georgia.

More revelations

This month, officials released two reports that further fueled already high interest in the case.

First, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission detailed its findings of a forensic investigation of the vessel, found in March 2016 by a Norwegian supply vessel about 170 miles east of Bermuda.

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-pn-missing-teens-courts-20170622-story.html

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Divers safe after being separated from dive boat off of the Jupiter Inlet

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. – Six divers are safe after the Coast Guard says they went missing earlier Wednesday afternoon east of the JInletr inlet.

Sea Tow located the divers who were on The Emerald Charters diving boat, according to Sea Tow.

Coast Guard crews from the Lake Worth Inlet station, a Coast Guard Helicopter from Miami, and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Marine units searched for the divers 3 miles east of the inlet.

The Coast Guard says none of the divers was injured.

It’s not clear who reported the divers missing or how they became separated from the diving boat.

They were then brought back to land.  

Article source: http://www.wptv.com/news/region-n-palm-beach-county/jupiter/divers-safe-after-being-separated-from-dive-boat-off-of-the-jupiter-inlet

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Jupiter Restaurant partly owned by Michael Jordan takes shape …

MJ2

 

Exterior work has started on 1000 North, the waterfront restaurant in Jupiter that will be partly owned by former NBA star Michael Jordan.

Read the full story in The Palm Beach Post.



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Missing teens left behind messages, maps before disappearing on boat trip to Bahamas

by: Hannah Winston, Palm Beach Post
Updated: Jun 21, 2017 – 9:53 AM


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JUPITER, Fla. – The day before Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen rode out from the Jupiter Inlet to the Atlantic Ocean in July 2015 for what would be the last time, the boys messaged at least one friend to ask if the friend wanted to come along fishing the following day.

[Missing Florida teens: Video shows boys boating toward ocean]

“Me and Austin r (siq) crossing to the Bahamas tomorrow come with us,” Cohen wrote in an Instagram message to a friend, according to court documents.

Another friend of Austin Stephanos told investigators that same day the 14-year-old boys had been talking about heading out to the Bahamas, but decided it was “too rough” that day.


TRENDING STORIES:


The interviews, accounts and messages are part of a December court filing in the civil court proceeding over Austin Stephanos’s recovered cellphone, which was found when the 18-foot boat was recovered near Bermuda nearly eight months after the Tequesta teens disappeared. The documents were intended to compel a judge to let Cohen’s family have access to any information on Austin Stephanos’s cellphone, though Apple was not able to recover anything from the iPhone. The case remains open.

The new details come after recent developments in the case and nearly two years after the pair steered into a storm on the Atlantic. Though the boat and their life vests were eventually found, the boys were never seen again.

On Monday, Cohen’s family said it was considering a civil lawsuit days after a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigative report was released stating the agency found Stephanos’s mother, Carly Black, had been negligent and recommended charges. The State Attorney did not go forward with charges.

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission report released Thursday said a “weather-related incident” was to blame in the boys’ disappearance. Originally it was speculated that something may have happened to the boat’s engine, but investigators discovered the engine was still working when the boat took on water.

Read more here.



File photo, view of the Caribbean Sea

Dimitrios Kambouris

Article source: http://www.wsbtv.com/news/trending-now/missing-teens-left-behind-messages-maps-before-disappearing-on-boat-trip-to-bahamas_/536776599

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Divers safe after being separated from dive boat off of the Jupiter …

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. – Six divers are safe after the Coast Guard says they went missing earlier Wednesday afternoon east of the JInletr inlet.

Sea Tow located the divers who were on The Emerald Charters diving boat, according to Sea Tow.

Coast Guard crews from the Lake Worth Inlet station, a Coast Guard Helicopter from Miami, and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Marine units searched for the divers 3 miles east of the inlet.

The Coast Guard says none of the divers was injured.

It’s not clear who reported the divers missing or how they became separated from the diving boat.

They were then brought back to land.  

Article source: http://www.wptv.com/news/region-n-palm-beach-county/jupiter/divers-safe-after-being-separated-from-dive-boat-off-of-the-jupiter-inlet

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Missing teens left behind messages, maps before disappearing on boat trip to Bahamas

by: Hannah Winston, Palm Beach Post
Updated: Jun 20, 2017 – 5:27 PM


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$(“#wrapper”).after(“”);
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JUPITER, Fla. – The day before Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen rode out from the Jupiter Inlet to the Atlantic Ocean in July 2015 for what would be the last time, the boys messaged at least one friend to ask if the friend wanted to come along fishing the following day.

Read more trending news

Related Headlines

“Me and Austin r (siq) crossing to the Bahamas tomorrow come with us,” Cohen wrote in an Instagram message to a friend, according to court documents.

Another friend of Austin Stephanos told investigators that same day the 14-year-old boys had been talking about heading out to the Bahamas, but decided it was “too rough” that day.

The interviews, accounts and messages are part of a December court filing in the civil court proceeding over Austin Stephanos’s recovered cellphone, which was found when the 18-foot boat was recovered near Bermuda nearly eight months after the Tequesta teens disappeared. The documents were intended to compel a judge to let Cohen’s family have access to any information on Austin Stephanos’s cellphone, though Apple was not able to recover anything from the iPhone. The case remains open.

The new details come after recent developments in the case and nearly two years after the pair steered into a storm on the Atlantic. Though the boat and their life vests were eventually found, the boys were never seen again.

On Monday, Cohen’s family said it was considering a civil lawsuit days after a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigative report was released stating the agency found Stephanos’s mother, Carly Black, had been negligent and recommended charges. The State Attorney did not go forward with charges.

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission report released Thursday said a “weather-related incident” was to blame in the boys’ disappearance. Originally it was speculated that something may have happened to the boat’s engine, but investigators discovered the engine was still working when the boat took on water.

Read more here.



File photo, view of the Caribbean Sea

Dimitrios Kambouris

Article source: http://www.fox25boston.com/news/trending-now/missing-teens-left-behind-messages-maps-before-disappearing-on-boat-trip-to-bahamas/536440518

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