Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, The Lower Keys & Key West
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SNORKELING Key Largo is know as the dive capital of the world, offering several ship wrecks, coral formations and the ever famous John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. But did you know that our reef line runs from just north of Key Largo to the Dry Tortugas? If you are not a certified scuba diver, snorkeling gives you a great opportunity to see our living coral reefs. Families are welcome! We have companies throughout the Florida Keys that specialize in snorkel tours visiting one or more locations in a single trip. Most always, all gear is included and safety is a priority. Dive and snorkel charter boats are operated by trained staff who know the industry. If you've never experienced snorkeling, your charter will be glad to teach you the basic skills needed to enjoy your experience. Explore our underwater world and take a look at how our sea life spends it's time.
Their is a very good chance you will see tropical fish, the colorful ones that you may have seen in an aquarium. We are also home to loggerhead sea turtles, Atlantic bottle nose dolphin, Florida's spinney lobster and a wide variety of other fish and sea life. You may even catch a glance of a starfish laying on the sandy bottom. Most of the time snorkeling, you are several feet above the highest coral. This gives you the opportunity to see the different living coral formations without touching them. Human touch can kill corals. Spotted throughout the corals are many types of sea fans, sponges and sea grass. These provide homes and feeding opportunities for many sea creatures.
If you snorkel from shore, you may see some sea life, but nothing compared to the reefs and sea beds offshore. It's well worth the trip to hop on a charter boat and see the only living coral reef in North America.
Key West Aquarium One Whitehead Street Key West, Fl. 33041 (305) 296-2051 Pet a shark! The 50,000 gallon Atlantic shore Exhibit was created to give visitors an up close and personal experience of the delicate Florida Keys mangrove near-shore and reef. A window of wonder comes alive as expert guides explain the mysteries of the water surrounding the Florida Keys. Tours daily @ 11, 1, 3 & 4:30.
FLORIDA KEYS WILD BIRD CENTER Located at Mile Marker 94 in the Upper Keys. This non profit is a rescue hospital and recovery operation for injured Florida Keys birds. From a broken wing to swallowed fishing hooks, birds who make it here are in good hands. This is a great location for photo's. You will get a chance to see sea gulls, herons, osprey, pelicans, doves and many other native and migratory birds seen throughout the Florida Keys. Plan to spend an hour or two wandering through the boardwalk path. Perfect for all ages. Free of charge. Donations welcome.
Loggerhead turtle (pictured left) is one of many marine turtles found in Florida Keys waters. Their are seven species of marine turtles (total) and all are listed as either threatened or endangered. Turtles are air-breathing reptiles that are well adapted to marine life. Their large flippers help guide them along and their large heads house jaws that can crush lobsters. The Loggerhead is a carnivore, eating mostly bottom dwellers such as mollusks, horseshoe crab, sea urchins and lobster. They are born a mere two inches long and grow to 45 inches and as big as five hundred pounds. It is estimated they live beyond fifty years. The Florida Keys are fortunate to be home to the Turtle Hospital, which is located in Marathon, the heart of the Florida Keys. The hospital has taken in and successfully released over 1000 sea turtles since it began in 1986. The Turtle Hospital is open from 9-6pm daily. Great for all ages. For reservations contact 305-743-2552. Admission fee required to tour.
KAYAKING AND PADDLEBOARDING
Kayaking and Paddleboarding are popular ways to get out on the water. You will find sales and rentals located throughout the Florida Keys. One location located in the Upper Keys is Paddle the Florida Keys. They say, "Our Eco-Tours are highly enjoyable and educational! Depending on tide and wind conditions and paddler ability, we have several locations in Key Largo and Tavernier we take customers to that are close to our location. On our trips the guide will talk about the natural history of the Key Largo and Tavernier area as well as identify flora and fauna seen on the trip. There is a chance of seeing the iconic manatee, bottle nosed dolphin, or green sea turtles on our trips. Guides also provide paddling instruction for those in
need of refreshers or for first timers!"
FLORIDA KEYS ECO-DISCOVERY CENTER Take a journey into the world of native plants and animals of the Florida Keys, both on land and underwater. Leave with an increased awareness and appreciation of the need to protect the ecosystem of South Florida.
The Center features 6,000 square feet of interactive and dynamic exhibits including a mock-up of Aquarius, the world's only underwater ocean laboratory. Colorful marine artwork depicting the deep sea, coral reef, and mangrove shoreline decorates the outside wall of the Center, guiding you toward the main entrance.
Once inside, you can explore exhibits interpreting the ecology of Keys' habitats, from the upland pinelands through the hardwood hammock and beach dune. From there, you'll travel down to the mangrove shoreline, where you can enter the sea to learn about the seagrass flats, hardbottom, coral reef, and deep-shelf communities. Stop in to the Center's theater to catch "Reflections of the Florida Keys," a short film on the diverse ecosystem of the Florida Keys by renowned filmmaker Bob Talbot.
Be sure to check out the Mote Marine Laboratory Living Reef exhibit, which includes a 2,500 gallon reef tank with living corals and tropical fish, a live reef cam, and other displays that highlight the coral reef environment. A walk through the Aquarius exhibit offers glimpses of the beautiful marine life at the reef and shows how scientists live beneath the sea during research expeditions.
And before you head out, stop by the on-site gift shop featuring fun and unique items such as books, games, and videos. Net proceeds from the sale of products are returned to the Center to support educational programs. The Center is sponsored and operated by Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA, the South Florida Water Management District, Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks, the National Wildlife Refuges of the Florida Keys, and Eastern National. Admission to the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center is free. Contact the Center at 305-809-4750.
HARRY S. TRUMAN LITTLE WHITE HOUSE
Take a step back in time and learn about the trips to Key West by past U.S.Presidents who have stayed at the Harry S. Truman Little White House. Named for President Truman, you can tour both the house and it's grounds. It is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day, including holidays. It is located in Old Town, Key West at 111 Front Street.
The photo (right) is of President Harry S. Truman fishing in Key West in the early 1940's. He caught a 6 pound grouper.
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