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GULF OF MEXICO AND CARIBBEAN
Dry Tortugas

 
 

The Dry Tortugas, seven small islands of coral rock and sand at the western end of the Florida Keys, have some of the healthiest remaining coral reefs in the tropical Atlantic Ocean. The Spanish called these islands Tortugas, the Spanish word for turtles, because huge numbers of green sea turtles once grazed turtle grass in their shallows. Surviving and flourishing for millions of years—since dinosaurs walked the land—sea turtle populations are now severely depleted worldwide. Humans have decimated huge populations of sea turles by using them for meat, eggs, and decoration. Sea turtles are also inadvertently killed when they become entangled in commercial fishing gear. The Dry Tortugas are now part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary which provides safe refuge for endangered green and loggerhead sea turtles. Many coral reefs in the Florida Keys and the Caribbean have suffered from pollution and overfishing, but the Tortugas are still home to corals that are hundreds of years old. In addition, this area thrives with sponges, octopuses, sea urchins, and a diversity of snappers, groupers, angelfish, and other reef fish. Many people visit Dry Tortugas and other marine protected areas for recreation, inspiration, and a chance to experience the wonders that the ocean holds.

 

EXPLORE BY THEME

Ecological Uniqueness
Endangered Species
Protected Areas

 

LEARN MORE

Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park- Park Vision
Photo Gallery from Dry Tortugas National Park
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Florida Keys - Encyclopedia

 

VIDEO

Dry Tortugas Video Clips

 

 

 


Green sea turtle, the namesake of Dry Tortugas. Photo: NOAA


Grunt in Dry Tortugas reef. Photo: NOAA


Fort Jefferson Lighthouse. Photo: NPS