KEY LARGO, Florida Keys — A scuba-diving Santa Claus submerged with his elves and “reindeer” in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Key Largo Monday to deliver a bit of holiday cheer to the preserve’s marine inhabitants and to entertain divers.
Santa Claus was played by Spencer Slate, owner of the island chain’s Captain Slate’s Scuba Adventures, who has been donning the jolly man’s attire for years. His holiday dives provide underwater photo opportunities for customers as a fundraiser for local children’s charities.
During his subsea excursion at Pleasure Reef, Slate and an elf-costumed diver used red SeaBob underwater sleds to cruise above the reef. They encountered schools of fish and other marine life.
The sanctuary recently marked 30 years of protecting the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef and the waters surrounding the Florida Keys. It incorporates about 2,900 square nautical miles of reef, seagrass beds, mangrove-fringed islands with more than 6,000 species of marine life.