What a day for wildlife sighting in the Keys today! We drove from Long Key to Key West for the day with a stop at Big Pine Key along the way. For all the years we’ve been visiting this paradise, we’ve managed to miss out on seeing 2 things – Key Deer & Manatee. Today we crossed one of these off the list, hopefully we’ll get the other one in the days to come!
Key Deer – they are an endangered species that live in one isolated area of the Florida Keys – about 25 islands in total where they can be found, 2 of which are easily accessible by regular folk like us driving in our little car! After doing some reading, I discovered that they are actually a subspecies of the Virginia White-tailed Deer – the same ones that we enjoyed the company of while traversing the Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park! Amazing coincidence and yet another reminder of just how small this planet is!
While on Big Pine Key, we stopped at a little spot called the Blue Hole. It’s an old quarry that was flooded by a hurricane and is fed by saltwater that seeps through the limestone. Here we spotted a Red Belly Turtle, a non-native fish related to the Piranha that it is believed was deposited here by someone who was emptying out their aquarium, a Pumpkinseed fish and the coolest – a couple of Alligators!
And then on to Key West where we spotted the following: Parrotfish, a baby Barracuda, tons of Tarpon, a Nurse Shark, Needlefish, a school of Mullet that swam in a perfect circle, and this elusive creature:
All in all, a truly amazing day in the beautiful and incredibly special Florida Keys!
Take some time to stop and look around at the nature and beauty where you live and in the places that you visit. It reminds me to be more conscious of my impact on my environment and of how precious our natural resources are. This is a special planet that we share with some special creatures!