Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tales from the Road: The Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are located in Monroe County, the southernmost county in Florida and the United States. It is composed of a string of islands connected by U.S. Highway 1 (US1) which ends at mile marker 0 in Key West, 150 miles south of Miami. There are 1700 islands in the Florida Keys and they have been broken up into the Upper, Middle, and Lower Keys. The Upper Keys are defined as Key Largo south to Lower Matecume Key. This area is characterized by tropical hardwood hammock habitat and well developed and protected Atlantic-side reefs. The Middle Keys are from Long Key southwestward to the end of the Seven Mile Bridge. They are characterized by grass beds and hard-bottom communities with a good diversity of fish. The islands are relatively far apart which allows for rapid water flows and big tides resulting in turbid, underdeveloped or absent Atlantic-side coral reefs. The Lower Keys include all of the rest of the islands south and west of the end of the Seven Mile Bridge. They are relatively separate from the other islands but have a good amount of land area and well developed, protected Atlantic-side coral reefs.

Key Largo, the first and largest island in the Florida Keys, is focus of these pictures. Because of its reefs and fish diversity it is a popular spot for snorkelers and sport fishermen. Due to storms to the north and south we had quite a bit of chop, and more than usual turbidity, out on the reef but still managed to see some great stuff. After snorkeling we took a look around the mangroves.

A view from the first bridge driving into the Keys.

The above are some underwater pics from reefs off of John Pennekamp State Park.

Magroves in Key Largo, Florida
The Florida Keys is in (or makes up) Monroe County. Visit their website for great information, news and history:

When it comes to the history of the Florida Keys this is one of the best websites I've found. It has some really great info and some amazing photographs:

Visit NOAA's Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary website:

If you are looking for some more info but especially if you are looking to visit the Keys then check out this site:
Florida's Department of Enviromnmental Protection has a page on the watershed of this area:

Learn about the history of the Conch Republic:

Frommer's Travel Guide takes you to the Florida Keys:

John Pennekamp State Park has some of the best snorkeling and diving in the Keys:

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