Dry Tortugas National Park


Almost 70 miles (113 km) west of Key West lies the remote Dry Tortugas National Park. The 100-square mile park is mostly open water with seven small islands. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the park is known the world over as the home of magnificent Fort Jefferson, picturesque blue waters, superlative coral reefs and marine life, and the vast assortment of bird life that frequent the area.
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Human History

The first European to see the Dry Tortugas was Juan Ponce de León, who visited on June 21, 1513. Ponce de León caught 160 sea turtles there and subsequently referred to the islands as the "Tortugas" (turtles). They are called Dry owing to the absence of surface fresh water on the island. The archipelago includes a high concentration of historically significant shipwrecks dating from the 17th century to the present. The Dry Tortugas were a significant American naval base from Colonial times to the early 20th century, providing a sheltered anchorage and coaling station through the Spanish-American War.

Florida was acquired from Spain by the United States in 1822. The Dry Tortugas were seen as a strategic point for the control of the Florida Straits and the Gulf of Mexico. Work on a lighthouse on Garden Key started in 1825. Planning for a fortification began almost immediately, and construction started in 1847. In 1856 work on a new, more powerful lighthouse on Loggerhead Key was started to replace the Garden Key light.

Work was half complete in 1860. Construction continued into the American Civil War, but eventually stopped and the fort was used as a military prison. This use continued until 1874. With the introduction of coal-fueled ships, the Dry Tortugas became a coaling station for US Navy ships.

Geologic History

Late Paleozoic Era – During the Mississippian, the landmass that would underlie

the grand carbonate platform of Florida today was not attached to the North

American Craton. It is speculated that it was attached to the northwest portion of

the African continent . However, marine carbonates

were being deposited over large portions of the area atop a Paleozoic age

crystalline basement high, the Peninsular Arch . In the

Pennsylvanian, a collision event, known as the Ouachita orogeny sutured the

Florida landmass to the continent as Gondwanaland and North America collided

eventually forming the supercontinent Pangaea. The land was still submerged

and south Florida was located at the junction of the North American, South

American, and African plates. Through the Permian, Pangaea remained intact

Early Mesozoic Era – No sooner had Pangaea formed than it began to break up.

During the late Triassic, South and Central America and Africa began to rift away

from North America. This established the long- standing passive margin of the

eastern seaboard that persists today. The Florida and Cuba blocks detached

from northwest Africa and the Gulf of Mexico opened .

Accompanying the rifting of Pangaea was the widespread extrusion of volcanic

rocks consistent with mantle plume upwelling due to crustal tension

. This continental rifting also opened the

Atlantic Ocean basin.

Middle Mesozoic Era - Underlying the south Florida basin are igneous rhyolitic

- basaltic rocks. These rocks were subaerially exposed and

eroded during the late Triassic to middle Jurassic. This caused the formation of

redbeds locally. As the Atlantic Ocean continued to develop, deltaic and shallow

marine sediments were deposited in the late Jurassic. Restriction of marine

circulation at this time resulted in periodic accumulations of evaporites and

marine carbonates . Deposition of Jurassic and Cretaceous

sediments was controlled by the south- southeast plunging axis of the Peninsular

Arch. Basal sediments onlap and pinch out against the arch.

Late Mesozoic Era – As marine transgression proceeded during the early

Cretaceous, the Florida Platform was the site of more widespread deposition of marine limestones and reefs. Further transgression and global warming during

the Late Cretaceous established an open marine accumulation of carbonates over

the entire Florida Peninsula.


It is a few islands in in a subtropical marine environment
There are coral reefs there, as well as sandbars and beaches
The islets are largely coastal, little more than beach, some with a few trees
Fort Jefferson is on the largest island (which is also very tiny)

Dry tortugas national park ecological balance

  • Cars
  • Camping
  • Turtles

More stuff

biotic and abiotic?

The biotic will definitely be Coral Reef. Abiotic will be the ocean.


sea turtles, nurse sharks, reef fishes, and 299 species of birds.

Endangered animals?

Manatee, West Indian

Trichechus manatus


Sea Turtle, Green

Chelonia mydas


Sea Turtle, Hawksbill

Eretmochelys imbricata


Sea Turtle, Kemp’s Ridley

Lepidochelys kempi


Sea Turtle, Leatherback

Dermochelys coriacea


Seal, Caribbean Monk

Monachus triopicalis


Whale, Finback

Balaenoptera physalus


Whale, Humpback

Megaptera novaeangliae


Whale, Right

Balaena glacialis (incl. australis)


Free time at park

2 days?

Go snokerling. vist park fully. go camping.

whole week?

The campground is a self-service fee area with a nightly fee of $3 per person.

1) guided fishing trips, 2) dive and/or snorkeling trips, 3) guided wildlife viewing trips and 4) sailing charters

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Palestine, TX‎


Head southwest on Avenue A toward N Sycamore St

go 230 ft

total 230 ft


Turn left onto N Sycamore St

go 39 ft

total 269 ft


Take the 1st left onto E Spring St

About 2 mins

go 0.2 mi

total 0.3 mi


Turn right onto TX-19 S/U.S. 287 S/N Mallard St

Continue to follow TX-19 S/U.S. 287 S

About 39 mins

go 34.9 mi

total 35.2 mi


Turn left onto E Goliad Ave

go 138 ft

total 35.2 mi


Take the 1st right onto S 5th St

About 46 secs

go 0.2 mi

total 35.5 mi


Take the 2nd left onto U.S. 287 S/E Bowie Ave

Continue to follow U.S. 287 S

About 1 hour 15 mins

go 75.6 mi

total 111 mi


Turn right onto U.S. 287 S/US-69 S/N Magnolia St

Continue to follow U.S. 287 S/US-69 S

About 50 mins

go 44.3 mi

total 155 mi


Keep left at the fork and merge onto U.S. 287 S/US-69 S/US-96 S

About 9 mins

go 9.8 mi

total 165 mi


Take the exit on the left onto I-10 E toward Lake Charles

Entering Louisiana

About 2 hours 42 mins

go 187 mi

total 352 mi


Keep left to continue on I-12 E, follow signs for Hammond

About 1 hour 15 mins

go 85.2 mi

total 437 mi


Take exit 85C on the left to merge onto I-10 E toward Bay St Louis

Passing through Mississippi, Alabama

Entering Florida

About 6 hours 14 mins

go 445 mi

total 882 mi


Take exit 296A to merge onto I-75 S toward Tampa

About 1 hour 30 mins

go 108 mi

total 990 mi


Keep left to continue on FL-91 S, follow signs for Orlando/Turnpike S

Partial toll road

About 3 hours 45 mins

go 261 mi

total 1,252 mi


Take the exit toward Homestead

Toll road

About 1 min

go 0.9 mi

total 1,253 mi


Merge onto Florida 821 Toll S

Partial toll road

About 42 mins

go 46.4 mi

total 1,299 mi


Exit on the left onto FL-5 S/U.S. 1 S/NE 1st Ave toward Key W

Continue to follow FL-5 S/U.S. 1 S

Partial toll road

About 2 hours 32 mins

go 124 mi

total 1,423 mi


Turn right onto N Roosevelt Blvd

About 4 mins

go 2.3 mi

total 1,425 mi


Turn left onto 1st St

go 187 ft

total 1,425 mi


Take the 1st right onto Vivian St

go 354 ft

total 1,425 mi


Turn left onto George St

About 58 secs

go 0.2 mi

total 1,425 mi


Turn right onto South St

go 171 ft

total 1,426 mi

Key West, FL‎