Our team was in Dry Tortugas National Park this week as a support vessel for elasmboranch researchers from Florida International University. Dr. Mark Bond, the principal investigator, uses baited underwater remote video (BRUVs) to study the effectiveness of marine reserves in conserving sharks and rays.
Dry Tortugas National Park is made up of ocean and a tiny group of seven islands 68 miles west of Key West, in the Gulf of Mexico. These islands (called "dry" because they have no surface water, and "tortugas" because Ponce de León saw a lot of sea turtles when he became the first European to visit them in 1513) represent less than 1% of the park's total area--it's mostly water. Garden Key, the administrative center for DTNP, also contains the largest brick masonry structure in the western hemisphere--historic Fort Jefferson. While we had a great time seeing the sights, the real attraction for most visitors is the amazing variety of marine and bird life that calls the park home.
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