Key West and Dry Tortugas National Park

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"Keys" means islands in Spanish. We visited a series of island extended from the south end of the Florida peninsula, connected to the continent by some 50 bridges. The southern most island and town is Key West. Key West is a tourist town, and a favorite stop of many Caribbean Cruiser. In the last pic is a dish of Conch sashimi. Never had that elsewhere before.

Street scenes of Key West. Key West is the long time home of good old Ernest Hemingway. The Nobel Prize-winning writer spent his most productive years in this two-story building (last 3 pix).

 

A Tour to Dry Tortugas National Park. Dry Tortugas is a series of coral reef islands about 70 miles west of Key West. It's first discovered by the Spanish in 1513. The Spanish were obviously impressed by the abundance of sea turtles, or tortugas, around the island, which provide plenty of food. However, there was little fresh water available, and hence the name Dry Tortugas. On one of the larger island is Fort Jefferson, a fortress was built in the 1840's to watch over the Mexico Gulf. During the Civil war the fortress was converted into a prison. The first pic is the floor plan of the hexagonal fortress.

Inside Fort Jefferson, a huge yard. Get on top of the fortress, can have a clear view of the island and the canal around the fortress.

Around the Park, clear water and nice beaches. All kinds of colorful corral can be found on the shore.

The clear water around the island is great for swimming and Snorkeling. There're plenty of birds around the island. The 2nd and 3rd pic are a group of Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus). In the last pic is a Long-Billed Curlew (Numenius americanus).

 

Bahia Honda State Park in the Bahia Honda Key is said to have the best beach in the world. Beautiful fine white sand, crystal clear water. Plenty of marine life in shallow water. Just look around you can pick up a Sea Urchin or a small crab.

 

The Sever-Mile Bridge connecting the Florida Keys is the longest continuous concrete segmental bridge in the world. You may remember the movie True Lies, some of the late action scenes were shot here. Against the sunset, a troop of Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) flied by in formation. In the last 2 pix, a Great Egret (Ardea alba).

 

Kayaking in the Sugar Loaf Key. Along the Mangrove forest, met a group of Brown Pelicans resting in the Mangrove trees.

On top of a Mangrove tree we found a nest of Osprey.

In the crystal clear water underneath, you can find many interesting creatures: a young Shark (2 pix); different kinds of colorful Sea Weeds, Corals (2 pix), and Star Fish (2 pix).

More interesting stuff: Sea Cucumber (3 pix ) is a delicacy in Chinese cuisine. It spitted out water when I picked it up. The delicate little seaweed is called Mermaid's Vineglass (1 pic). In the last 2 pix is probably a Needle Fish.

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