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Mooring Buoy Program

Miami-Dade County Mooring Buoy Program

In 2009, the Miami-Dade County Mooring Buoy Program launched. Its purpose was to establish a system of mooring buoys for recreational vessels to protect natural and artificial reefs from damage caused by boat anchors.

The program has since been expanded. Currently, buoys are available for use at nine locations off Miami-Dade County's shores, from Sunny Isles Beach south to Key Biscayne. These sites include popular natural and artificial reef sites, as well as an archaeological preserve.

Funding the Mooring Buoy Program

Funding is needed for the ongoing maintenance required for the buoys. Learn about adopting a buoy and supporting the Mooring Buoy Program. Its success depends on Miami-Dade County's collaboration with local schools, companies and non-governmental agencies.

Donate to the Miami-Dade Adopt-a-Buoy program through our reef partner, the Miami-Dade Reef Guard Association. Your contribution will help save 48 miles of Miami-Dade County coral reefs.

For information about the program, email the Mooring Buoy Program Manager at [email protected] or call 305-372-6864.

Make a Donation - Adopt a Buoy

The Mooring Buoy Program depends on donations and support of local schools, individuals, groups and corporations, for continued maintenance of buoys. In turn, this increases visibility of natural and artificial reefs to be protected.

Donate to the Miami-Dade Adopt-a-Buoy program through our reef partner, the Miami-Dade Reef Guard Association. Your contribution will help save 48 miles of Miami-Dade County coral reefs.

Various contribution levels are available.

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Mooring Buoy Locations

There are nine mooring buoy locations along Miami-Dade County's shores. See each of the locations, descriptions and other characteristics.

News: In August 2012, two new sites -- RJ's Ledge and Rainbow Reef -- were added to the Mooring Buoy Program.

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Proper Mooring Buoy Use

Please maintain idle speed with no wake in the vicinity of the mooring buoys. Watch for swimmers, snorkelers, divers and diver bubbles. Follow these instructions:

  • Slowly approach the mooring buoy head-on against the wind or current (whichever is stronger and will have the greatest effect on the boat's course). The mooring buoy pick-up line will be pointed toward you in the direction of the current/wind.
  • Never tie your boat directly to the pick-up line as this puts too much stress on the buoy anchor system.

Always connect to the mooring buoy with a line from your boat. To secure your boat to the mooring buoy, follow these steps:

  • Cleat off one end of the bowline to the bow.
  • Use a hook to lift up the pick-up line. 

pick-up line

  • Run the free line of the bowline through the eye of the pick-up line.


  • Cleat the free end of the bowline to the bow of your boat.

cleat finish 

  • With the proper amount of scope, the buoy should not be pulled under the water by the action of the boat. During rough weather, add extra scope to the pick-up line to improve the ride of your boat and reduce wear on the buoy system.
  • Use buoys at your own risk! Always inspect the buoy system your boat is moored to. Check that the lines and buoy are in good condition and the mooring system is holding as intended.

Note: Vessel captains are responsible for the safety of their vessels and passengers. Miami-Dade County assumes no liability for the use of any mooring buoy.

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Maintaining a Mooring Buoy

Regular maintenance is necessary to keep the mooring buoys in good working condition. The Miami-Dade Mooring Buoy DiagramCounty Mooring Buoy Program requires monthly and quarterly maintenance inspections for each buoy.

Monthly inspections:

  • Inspect all buoys and pickup lines.
  • Clean pickup lines of growth or replace as needed.
  • Clean buoys and check for cracks; replace as needed.
  • Inspect and clean exposed portions of the buoy through-line and replace as needed.

Quarterly inspections -- complete all tasks required during monthly maintenance, as well as:

  • Inspect down line and protective hosing for wear and damage; replace as needed.
  • Inspect down line and protective hosing for wear and damage; replace as needed.
  • Inspect anchor for wear or damage; replace as needed.

If you would like to help with the maintenance of the Miami-Dade County mooring buoys, learn how you can adopt a buoy, or contact the Program Manager at [email protected] or 305-372-6864.

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When mooring buoys are installed, preventive maintenance is the key to sustaining the entire program and system. Please help us keep the mooring buoys in good working condition by immediately reporting damage to any part of the mooring buoy system or by reporting missing mooring buoys.

Please fill out the Mooring Buoy reporting form to report a damaged or missing mooring buoy. When complete, click on the button in the lower right hand corner to email it to the Program Manager.

If you found a mooring buoy that is adrift or have any other questions concerning mooring buoy maintenance and repair, email the Program Manger at [email protected] or call 305-372-6864.

Miami-Dade County is gathering information on current usage patterns of the Mooring Buoy system in order to properly maintain and enhance the program. Complete the survey below to offer your input.

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Page Last Edited: Wed Oct 3, 2018 5:10:24 PM
Ecosystem Protection

Reef and Mooring Buoy Finder

Reef and Mooring Buoy GIS

The Reef and Buoy Finder GIS page includes information on artificial reefs and offshore mooring buoys managed by Miami-Dade County, including their coordinates and much more.


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