ANNA MARIA, Fla. — Thousands of people come to Anna Maria Island every day for the feel of old Florida.
Instead of high-rise hotels, greenery lines the white sand beaches and aqua water, and residents want to keep it that way.
"We have so many people coming and going from this area and we’re trying to protect the most natural parts of this fragile environment," said Carol Clark who lives on the island.
The Center for Anna Maria Island has helped install more than 160 mini-reefs all around the island. Each reef is said to filter more than 30,000 gallons of water every day.
"Clean water is the essence of life," said Bob Carter.
The Carter’s have mini-reefs installed below their dock.
"What’s really good about the mini-reefs is they promote the colonization of bioaccumulating filter-feeding organisms and they have a way of cleaning the water," said Aspen Cook, a biologist with MOTE.
Students from Eckerd college are now working with MOTE biologists to test how well the reefs are working.
The Center says this is part of their citizen scientists program, involving residents, students, and even visitors to get involved with keeping the island beautiful.
"We want to involve them in keeping the place they’ve chosen to spend time with their family, as pristine as it is today," Jim McDaniel, director of development with The Center for Anna Maria Island.