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Plan Your Visit: Dry Tortugas National Park
Plan Your Visit: Dry Tortugas National Park
::2011/10/14::
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Dry Tortugas National Park on Yankee Freedom III
Dry Tortugas National Park on Yankee Freedom III
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Tour Fort Jefferson - Dry Tortugas National Park - West of Key West, Florida
Tour Fort Jefferson - Dry Tortugas National Park - West of Key West, Florida
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Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park
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Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park
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Dry Tortugas: Remote Florida Keys Island Camping
Dry Tortugas: Remote Florida Keys Island Camping
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Seaplane - Key West to Dry Tortugas via Key West Seaplane Adventures
Seaplane - Key West to Dry Tortugas via Key West Seaplane Adventures
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Dry Tortugas National Park: Snorkeling off Garden Key
Dry Tortugas National Park: Snorkeling off Garden Key
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Highlights from Dry Tortugas National Park
Highlights from Dry Tortugas National Park
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Snorkeling at Dry Tortugas National Park
Snorkeling at Dry Tortugas National Park
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Dry Tortugas National Park
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American Crocodile Close Encounter [HD] - Dry Tortugas National Park
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Dry Tortugas National Park Webcam: A Teens4Oceans Project
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Dry Tortugas National Park Snorkeling 2010.11.28
Dry Tortugas National Park Snorkeling 2010.11.28
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"Dry Tortugas National Park" Johnrandall
"Dry Tortugas National Park" Johnrandall's photos around Dry Tortugas, United States (slideshow)
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Fort Jefferson - Dry Tortugas National Park
Fort Jefferson - Dry Tortugas National Park
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Key West Seaplane Adventure to the Dry Tortugas National Park
Key West Seaplane Adventure to the Dry Tortugas National Park
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Yankee Freedom Snorkeling | Dry Tortugas National Park
Yankee Freedom Snorkeling | Dry Tortugas National Park
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Key West Seaplane Adventures | Dry Tortugas National Park
Key West Seaplane Adventures | Dry Tortugas National Park
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Key West & Dry Tortugas National Park
Key West & Dry Tortugas National Park
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Dry Tortugas National Park via Key West Seaplane Adventures
Dry Tortugas National Park via Key West Seaplane Adventures
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Dry Tortugas National Park - Underwater
Dry Tortugas National Park - Underwater
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Dry Tortugas National Park HD
Dry Tortugas National Park HD
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Snorkeling on Loggerhead Key in Dry Tortugas National Park
Snorkeling on Loggerhead Key in Dry Tortugas National Park
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Exploring Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson
Exploring Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson
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Little Havana, Everglades National Park, Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park, USA
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Snorkeling Dry Tortugas National Park, October 10th 2010
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Dry Tortugas National Park snorkeling with #BeefCornellUGA N.Coaling Dock Ruins fish in HD 2013!
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Snorkeling at Fort Jefferson in The Dry Tortugas National Park
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Dry Tortugas National Park - Checking out the Loggerhead Key Lighthouse
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Dry Tortugas National Park APES Project
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A Beautiful Day on Loggerhead Key in Dry Tortugas National Park in the Gateway of the Gulf of Mexico
A Beautiful Day on Loggerhead Key in Dry Tortugas National Park in the Gateway of the Gulf of Mexico
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Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park
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Dry Tortugas
Dry Tortugas
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Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park
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Fort Jefferson - Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida, United States
Fort Jefferson - Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida, United States
::2010/10/27::
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Dry Tortugas National Park   Fort Jefferson Key West Ferry   Yankee Freedom xvid
Dry Tortugas National Park Fort Jefferson Key West Ferry Yankee Freedom xvid
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Huge Jellyfish at Dry Tortugas National Park!
Huge Jellyfish at Dry Tortugas National Park!
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Dry Tortugas National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Map showing the location of Dry Tortugas National Park
Map showing the location of Dry Tortugas National Park
Location Monroe County, Florida, USA
Nearest city Key West
Coordinates 24°37′43″N 82°52′24″W / 24.62861°N 82.87333°W / 24.62861; -82.87333Coordinates: 24°37′43″N 82°52′24″W / 24.62861°N 82.87333°W / 24.62861; -82.87333
Area 64,701 acres (26,184 ha)
61,481 acres (248.80 km2) federal[1]
Established January 4, 1935
Visitors 60,550 (in 2012)[2]
Governing body National Park Service
http://www.nps.gov/drto/

Dry Tortugas National Park is a national park in the USA about 68 statute miles (109 km) west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico. The park preserves Fort Jefferson and the seven Dry Tortugas islands, the westernmost and most isolated of the Florida Keys. The archipelago's coral reefs are the least disturbed of the Florida Keys reefs.

The park is noted for abundant sea life, tropical bird breeding grounds, colorful coral reefs and legends of shipwrecks and sunken treasures. The park's centerpiece is Fort Jefferson, a massive but unfinished coastal fortress. Fort Jefferson is the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere,[3][4] and is composed of over 16 million bricks. Dry Tortugas is unique in its combination of a largely undisturbed tropical ecosystem with significant historic artifacts. The park is accessible only by seaplane or boat and averages 60,000 visitors each year. Activities include snorkeling, picnicking, birdwatching, camping, scuba diving, saltwater fishing and kayaking.

Geography[edit]

The Dry Tortugas are a small archipelago of coral islands located about 70 miles (110 km) west of Key West, Florida. They represent the westernmost extent of the Florida Keys, though several reefs and submarine banks continue westward outside the park, beyond the Tortugas. The park area is more than 99% water. The seven major islands, all within the park, are, roughly from west to east, Loggerhead Key, Garden Key, Bush Key, Long Key, Hospital Key, Middle Key and East Key.[5] The Park is bordered on the east, south and west by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and on the northwest by the Tortugas Ecological Reserve.[6] Total land area within the park is 104 acres (42 ha). The park is in a tropical maritime climate, with rainy seasons coinciding with hurricane season from May to October, and a drier season from November through April. The area is heavily influenced by frequent hurricanes and tropical storms. Even with exposure to tropical systems the Tortugas are among the driest places in Florida, with an annual precipitation of about 49 inches (120 cm). There is little temperature variation, with high temperatures in summer around 90 °F (32 °C) and low temperatures in winter around 66 °F (19 °C).[7]

The northern and western portions of the park, including the central island group, were designated a 46-square-mile (120 km2) "research natural area" on January 19, 2007, in which no marine life may be taken, nor may vessels anchor. Vessels wishing to moor in the research natural area must use designated mooring buoys or docks. About 54 percent of the park remains open for fishing.[8]

The park is 70 miles (110 km) west of Key West. Visiting the park by private boat is difficult because of its distance, so most visitors come by ferry or seaplane from Key West, Florida. Official ferry and transportation services to the Dry Tortugas includes the Yankee Freedom III catamaran and seaplane services.[9]

Climate[edit]

Climate data for Dry Tortugas, FL
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 73.6
(23.1)
74.8
(23.8)
77.9
(25.5)
81.4
(27.4)
86.0
(30)
90.0
(32.2)
91.1
(32.8)
91.7
(33.2)
89.7
(32.1)
84.7
(29.3)
79.1
(26.2)
75.5
(24.2)
82.96
(28.32)
Average low °F (°C) 63.8
(17.7)
64.4
(18)
66.8
(19.3)
70.1
(21.2)
74.0
(23.3)
76.5
(24.7)
78.3
(25.7)
77.8
(25.4)
77.2
(25.1)
74.9
(23.8)
70.7
(21.5)
66.1
(18.9)
71.72
(22.05)
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.61
(66.3)
2.11
(53.6)
2.54
(64.5)
2.00
(50.8)
1.57
(39.9)
3.41
(86.6)
2.90
(73.7)
4.26
(108.2)
6.63
(168.4)
3.88
(98.6)
2.02
(51.3)
2.49
(63.2)
36.42
(925.1)
Source: [1]

History[edit]

Main article: Dry Tortugas

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.[10] 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.[11]

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.[11]

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.[11] With the introduction of coal-fueled ships, the Dry Tortugas became a coaling station for US Navy ships.

Fort Jefferson[edit]

Fort Jefferson is a massive but unfinished coastal fortress. It is the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere,[3][4] and is composed of over 16 million bricks.

Park history[edit]

Comprising 47,125 acres (19,071 ha), Fort Jefferson National Monument was designated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt under the Antiquities Act on January 4, 1935. The monument was expanded in 1983 and redesignated as Dry Tortugas National Park on October 26, 1992 by an act of Congress.[12][13] Dry Tortugas is presently managed by the staff of Everglades National Park.[14] The park was established to protect the island and marine ecosystems of the Dry Tortugas, to preserve Fort Jefferson and submerged cultural resources such as shipwrecks, and to allow for public access in a regulated manner.[10]

During the Federal government shutdown of 1995 and 1996, Dry Tortugas was closed along with all other national parks. Seeing this as having a damaging effect on their tourism-dependent economy, the residents of Key West, Florida raised money to keep Dry Tortugas open. The effort was inspired by the Smithsonian Institution, which raised private donations to keep its museums open during the shutdown.

Failing to find anybody to accept the money to reopen the park, Key West residents, under the auspices of the satirical micronation Conch Republic, sent a flotilla of civilian boats and fire department boats to Fort Jefferson in order to reopen the national park. When officials attempted to enter the fort, they were cited. The citation was contested in court the following year, and the resultant case, The United States of America v. Peter Anderson, was quickly dropped.

The park is a landing location for immigrants arriving from Cuba in homebuilt boats called "chugs." Receiving and housing the migrants is a particular problem for Dry Tortugas, which has limited resources for such arrivals and which is several hours from the nearest Coast Guard or Border Patrol units. Communications with Key West are accomplished using a satellite-based voice-over-IP system, which is prone to garbling and delays, and by a radio relay system using an abandoned Air Force tower between Key West and the Dry Tortugas.[14]

Visitation steadily rose for several decades, reaching a peak of 83,704 in 2000. Since then visitation has slowly declined, and now averages close to 60,000 per year.[2]

Ecology[edit]

The Dry Tortugas are classified as a borderline sub-tropical-tropical ecosystem, hosting species that do not breed or are uncommon anywhere else in the continental United States.

When a cold front along Florida wiped out 96% of branching coral in 1976-77, once extensive branching coral formations became rubble fields.[15] The Dry Tortugas National Park now consists of patch reef and branching coral rubble.[15][16]

Birds[edit]

Dry Tortugas National Park has an official bird list of 299 species. Of these, only eight species frequently nest within the park: Sooty Tern, Brown Noddy, Brown Pelican, Magnificent Frigatebird, Masked Booby, Roseate Tern, Bridled Tern, and Mourning Dove.[17] The park features the only nesting colonies of Sooty Tern, Brown Noddy, Magnificent Frigatebird, and Masked Booby in the contiguous United States.[7]

Underwater artifact with sea life

Birdwatching activity peaks each spring (usually April) when dozens of migratory bird species can pass through the park in a single day. Many birds land inside the parade grounds of Fort Jefferson where they are often observed at close range. Common migratory warblers include the Northern Parula, American Redstart, Prairie Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Palm Warbler, Black-and-White Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, and Cape May Warbler, with more than 20 additional warbler species having shown up at least once. Several raptor species as well as Cattle Egrets are often seen hunting songbirds. Until early 2013 a small freshwater fountain existed beneath several seaside mahoe and buttonwood trees, and was the only freshwater source for many miles. Maintenance issues necessitated its removal, but a replacement water barrel is scheduled for installation in the fall of 2013. Each year several bird guides offer tours of Dry Tortugas National Park during April and early May when daily bird lists can often reach 100 or more species.

Exotic species[edit]

An active eradication program has resulted in the removal of Casuarina trees and agave from Loggerhead Key, by cutting and herbicide treatment.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Listing of acreage as of December 31, 2011". Land Resource Division, National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-03-06. 
  2. ^ a b "NPS Annual Recreation Visits Report". National Park Service. Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  3. ^ a b "National Park Service Dry Tortugas National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-12-09. 
  4. ^ a b Herndon, David (November–December 2001). "Trips: Florida's Dry Tortugas National Park". National Geographic Adventure. Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  5. ^ Thornberry-Ehrlich, Trista L. (January 31, 2005). "Dry Tortugas National Park Geologic Resource Management Issues – Scoping Summary" (pdf). Colorado State University. Retrieved 2012-11-24. 
  6. ^ National Park Service. Dry Tortugas National Park Map (Map).
  7. ^ a b "Final General Management Plan Amendment Environmental Impact Statement" (pdf). Dry Tortugas National Park. National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-11-24. 
  8. ^ "Research Natural Area Will Be Effective January 19, 2007". Dry Tortugas National Park. National Park Service. January 18, 2007. Retrieved 2012-11-24. 
  9. ^ "Directions". Dry Tortugas National Park. National Park Service. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "Dry Tortugas National Park: 2000 Annual Report" (pdf). National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-11-24. 
  11. ^ a b c "Places". Dry Tortugas National Park. National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-11-30. 
  12. ^ "Dry Tortugas National Park Enabling Legislation". Dry Tortugas National Park. National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-11-24. 
  13. ^ "Antiquities Act 1906–2006". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-11-23. 
  14. ^ a b "Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks: Superintendent's Annual Report Fiscal Year 2010" (pdf). National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-11-23. 
  15. ^ a b Di Santo, V; Pomory, CM; Bennett, WA (2009). "Algal Garden Cultivation and Guarding Behavior of Dusky Damselfish on Coral Rubble and Intact Reef in Dry Tortugas National Park". In: Pollock NW, ed. Diving for Science 2009. Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences 28th Symposium. Dauphin Island, AL. Retrieved 2013-06-07. 
  16. ^ Muslic, A. et al. (2013). Linear Extension Rates of Massive Corals from the Dry Tortugas National Park (DRTO), Florida. Reston, Va.: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.
  17. ^ Roseate Terns have recently returned to nest on Bush Key. The small Bridled Tern colony on Long Key began in 2007 with a single pair, and represents the first confirmed breeding of this species within the park. "Bird List Dry Tortugas National Park" (pdf). Retrieved 2013-06-18. 

External links[edit]

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