Dry Tortuga facts

Tortuga facts

1. These islands are the gateway to the Gulf.
2. Founded by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513 but were not occupied until the nineteenth century.
3. They were named Tortugas because it is the spanish name for turtles. These islands are a national preserve and have the most migratory amount of species that come here (in the US) to nest. Many birds and turtles come here throughout the year. It is a national marine biology center. Dry because there is no fresh water.
4. There were originally 13 keys 4 of which were lost in hurricanes.
5. Even though it was unfinished Fort Jefferson is the Largest Masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere. It is composed of more than 16 million bricks. It has 2 types of bricks because the original bricks were from Florida but when the civil war broke out they had to ship them in from Main.
6. About 2-3 times a year a boat of cubans immigrants land on either Fort Jefferson shores or the shores of the lighthouse (Loggerhead Key).
7. Many small fisherman boats rest along it’s northern and eastern shores at night due to it’s the relatively calm waters.
8. The Dry Tortugas were acquired from Spain by the US in 1822.
9. All park police/rangers are also EMT,s. They rotate living in this remote area every 10 days.
10. There is a helicopter pad on the premises for emergencies.
11. You can only get here by boat or seaplane.
12. Best time to visit is in the April when spring migration is in full bloom.
13. The Islands and the furthest South west end of the coral reefs. wonderful snorkeling is found here.

14. I think it has the largest population of Hermit crabs I have ever seen. You really had to watch your step.

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