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Update: Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary has confirmed that the buoy belongs to them. It was previously installed at the Elbow Sanctuary Preservation Area in the Upper Keys.


A buoy from Florida in the United States has washed up thousands of miles away on Eriskay.

The buoy looks to have been in the sea for an extended period. It belongs to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

The buoy, about the size of a child’s space hopper, is substantially faded and has collected some type of marine plant during its journey across the Atlantic.

It is labelled with a NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program sticker and a second sticker declaring the buoy US Government property and providing a telephone number to call if it is found. It remains to be seen if they want their buoy back.

Though stamped with “fishing, lobstering, collecting”, the yellow-coloured buoy is likely to have been used to mark a designated zone within the marine sanctuary.

The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is a protected site administered by a federal agency, and jointly managed with the State of Florida. 

The sanctuary protects 3,800 square miles of the Florida Keys, extending from south of Miami westward to encompass the Dry Tortugas, excluding Dry Tortugas National Park.

It is home to a diverse community of underwater habitats, ranging from the only coral barrier reef in the continental United States to the largest documented contiguous seagrass community in the Northern Hemisphere. More than 6,000 animal species are found here.

The sanctuary aims to protect and restore habitat to sustain fisheries, recover protected species, and maintain resilient coastal ecosystems and communities. It has become a world leader in coral reef restoration.

It appears the buoy has been beached on Eriskay for several weeks after its 4,000-mile “as the crow flies” journey to the Outer Hebrides.

The Southern Isles are a hotspot for overseas flotsam. In October last year, a football belonging to the Irish League One club, Finns Harp, washed up on the west side of Vatersay.


This article has been updated since it was first published in order to add the marine sanctuary's confirmation.

Image credit: Mary Ann MacIntyre