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The Key West National Wildlife Refuge

Posted on January 10, 2019

Dry Tortugas Fishing & Key West Private Day & Liveaboard Diving

Between Key West and the Dry Tortugas the 189,497 acre Key West National Wildlife Refuge can be found. Of the 198,497 acres, only 2,019 acres are above sea level. Several of the Florida Keys are within the refuge; they are unpopulated and designated as wilderness. The Key West National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds. It is also a protected habitat for endangered and threatened fish, plants, migratory birds and other wildlife.

The Key West National Wildlife Refuge is one of only two offshore, raccoon free island refuges available and is used by more than 250 avian species as wintering, nesting, roosting, wading and loafing habitat. Terns, Magnificent Frigate birds, White-crowned Pigeons, Ospreys and Great White Herons are just a few of the birds that can be found on the refuge. A number of federally listed species can also be seen, including Piping Plovers and Bald Eagles.

Salt marshes and coastal berm hammocks can be found in various places throughout the refuge. There are also some communities of coral reef and sea grass. The abundant marine life that can be seen in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge is a subject all in its own. Most of the islands are mangrove and a few have sandy beaches which make up the only breeding site in the US for the endangered Hawks Bill Turtle. Numerous species of turtle nest on these beaches including the Atlantic Green and Loggerhead Turtles which are also endangered.

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