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Dry Tortugas National Park

Pictures by QT Luong

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[1 : Overview][2 : Distant views over water] [3 : Fort Jefferson outside] [4 : Fort Jefferson inside]
[5 : Garden Key Nature] [6 : Loggerhead Key Surface] [7 : Loggerhead Key Underwater] [8 : Other Keys]
[9 : People and boats] [All]

View only Large Format photos of Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park, 70 miles of Key West, Florida, is mostly an underwater park with seven diminutive islets, some of which no more than sand banks, some important wildlife sanctuaries, and one home to a massive and unlikely historical structure.

The name "Tortugas" was given by explorer Ponce de Leon in 1513 for the abundance of sea turtles ( the endangered green sea turtle and the threatened loggerhead turtle are still found) while "Dry" refers to the absence of available freshwater. A long-time pirate hide-out, the place was chosen by the US Navy as the "Gibraltar of the Gulf", a strategic location to control shipping from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. Despite formidable logistical challenges, Fort Jefferson, the largest brick structure in the Western Hemisphere, was built on Garden Key using 16 million hand-made bricks. However, by the time the fort was nearly finished, advances in artillery had rendered it obsolete, so its use was mostly as a civil war prison, holding 2500 prisoners and four men convicted of complicity in the assassination of President Lincoln.

These men left account of how desolate and boring the place was, but today's visitors enjoy the peace of an isolated island lost between sky and water, some of the most pristine coral reefs in the United States, and a rich wildlife. The islets, only 40 acres of sand, are surrounded by 67000 acres of the most varied underwater coral reefs in the United States, at the convergence of the Atlantic, Guff, and Caribbean ecosystems. The warm and clear waters are teaming with live coral, and tropical fish. Bush key is the only regular nesting place in the Western Hemisphere for 100000 sooty terns, during the only time that they don't spend in continous flight, while Long key is the home of magnificent frigate bird that soar with 7-foot wingspan.

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Loggerhead and Garden Key under approaching tropical storm. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Fort Jefferson and cloud seen from the West. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Colorful sunset over Loggerhead Key. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Sunrise over Long Key and Atlantic Ocean. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Beach and turquoise waters, Garden Key. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Tropical beach on Bush Key with conch shell and beached seaweed. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Conch shell and sand beach on Bush Key. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Hermit crabs and palm tree nuts. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Palm trees and Dry Tortugas Light Station, Loggerhead Key. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Wind in Palm trees. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Cactus and geiger trees, Loggerhead Key. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Beach and Fort Jefferson. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Aerial view of Garden, Bush, and Long Keys. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Coral head and Loggerhead Key light. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Sunken wreck of Avanti. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Fish, Windjammer Wreck, and surge. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Variety of colorful corals, Little Africa reef. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Large brain coral, Little Africa reef. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Coral and seagrass, Garden Key. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Split view of Fort Jefferson and clear sandy bottom. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Moat with turquoise waters, seawall, and fort. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Oceanscape with brick wall. Dry Tortugas National Park (Panoramic color) Fort Jefferson wall, moat and seawall, brighter late afternoon light. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Fort Jefferson seawall and moat, framed by a crumpling embrasures, late afternoon. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Walls and ruined barracks inside Fort Jefferson. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Lighthouse and cannon on upper level of Fort Jefferson. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Gallery illuminated by last light inside Fort Jefferson. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color) Fort Jefferson seawall at night with sky lit by thunderstorm. Dry Tortugas National Park ( color)

All text and photos © . See conditions for use of images. There are 28 color pictures on this page out of 241 color pictures of Dry Tortugas.
Themes: Dry Tortugas Night, Dry Tortugas Underwater
Places: Florida National Parks

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