Material Information

Biscayne Biscayne National Park, Florida
Added title page title:
Biscayne National Park, Florida
United States -- National Park Service
Place of Publication:
Washington D.C.?
The Service
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
1 map : col. ; 48 x 31 on sheet 60 x 43 cm. folded to 11 x 22 cm.
Scale [ca. 1:93,000].


Subjects / Keywords:
Outdoor recreation -- Maps -- Florida -- Biscayne National Park ( lcsh )
Maps -- Biscayne National Park (Fla.) ( lcsh )
Outdoor recreation -- Florida -- Biscayne National Park -- 1:93,000 -- 1984 ( local )
Outdoor recreation -- Biscayne National Park -- Florida -- 1:93,000 -- 1984 ( local )
Outdoor recreation -- 1:93,000 -- Biscayne National Park (Fla.) -- 1984 ( local )
Biscayne National Park -- Outdoor recreation -- 1:93,000 -- Florida -- 1984 ( local )
Outdoor recreation -- Biscayne National Park -- 1:93,000 -- Florida -- 1984 ( local )
1:93,000 -- Biscayne National Park (Fla.) -- 1984 ( local )
federal government publication ( marcgt )
single map ( marcgt )


General Note:
Relief shown by gradient tints and soundings.
General Note:
Includes text and location map.
General Note:
Text and col. ill. on verso.
Funded in part by the University of Florida, the Florida Heritage Project of the State University Libraries of Florida, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, and the U.S. Department of Education's TICFIA granting program.
Statement of Responsibility:
National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier:
022817717 ( ALEPH )
11364407 ( OCLC )


This item has the following downloads:

Full Text
Bican Naioa Par Naioa PakSevc

Bica n FloridaU.S. Deatmn of th Intrio

On the Mainland

Convoy Point The park's mainland center for visi-
tor services is located at Convoy Point. Park head-
quarters is here, as well as an information station. The
information station, which has exhibits and sched-
ules of park activities, is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Convoy Point also has a picnic area with tables, fire
grills, and restrooms. Guided boat trips to the keys and
snorkeling tours to the reefs leave from Convoy Point.
These tours are operated by the park concessioner.

Nearby Services and Accommodations Home-
stead, Miami, and the Florida Keys have a wide range
of hotels and motels; reservations are recommended
in winter and early spring. They also have a variety of
restaurants, service stations, groceries, and other
stores. Everglades National Park, John Pennekamp
Coral Reef State Park, and other area state parks have

year-round campgrounds. Nearby public marinas pro-
vide boat ramps and fuel, and often charter or rent sail
and motor boats (see map for locations).

The Greater Miami area and the Florida Keys have the
highest concentration of dive shops in the United
States. They rent and sell scuba diving and snorkeling
equipment, repair gear, and offer snorkeling instruc-
tion. If you are getting snorkeling gear, select a face
mask that covers only your eyes and nose and comes
equipped with a separate breathing tube. Be sure your
mask fits snugly.

Information For more information, write: Biscayne
National Park, P.O. Box 1369, Homestead, FL 33090-
1369; or call (305) 247-PAR K.

General Information and
Biscayne has a subtropical climate characterized by
warm, wet summers (May through October) and mild,
dry winters (November through April). You can expect
abundant sunshine and high humidity year-round.
High temperatures average in the 30sOC (high 80s and
low 90soF) in summer and in the 20sOC (mid-70s and
low 80sOF) in winter. Annual rainfall fluctuates greatly,
but 165 centimeters (65 inches) or more are common.
Most rain falls in summer in brief, intense afternoon
thunderstorms. Summer is also the peak season for
tropical storms and hurricanes.

The park is a wildlife and historical preserve; do not
disturb or remove any natural or historical object.
Firearms and other weapons and explosives are pro-
hibited. Pets must be physically restrained at all times.
Fires are allowed only in campstoves or designated

grills. There are no lifeguarded beaches. If you swim
take along a friend. Be careful wading along the shore;
coral rock is sharp and animals such as spiny sea
urchins live in the shallows. Mosquitoes and other
biting insects are year-round residents. Their popula-
tions are lowest from January to April. Always carry
insect repellent. If you are camping, be sure your tent
has bug-proof netting. Wear a waterproof sunscreen
to guard against sunburn.

Getting to the Park

The main north-south
highways approaching
Biscayne are Florida's
Turnpike and U.S. 1. The
most direct route to
Convoy Point is North Ca-
nal Drive (SW 328 St.).
U.S. 1 intersects North
Canal in Homestead.
Driving south on the
turnpike you can reach
North Canal by taking
Tallahassee Road (SW
137 Ave.) south. The rest
of the park is accessible
only by boat. See map be-
low for boat ramp loca-


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e g-" .Stakes and pipes mark channel "A. 6 ft
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Convoy Point
Pile Information Station
Park Headquarters

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Coon Point

Elliott Key AR .-i
Visitor Center

Elilott Key Harbor and Dock Ir'r 1
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(privately maintained) I

Ott Point

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Billys Point

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(private markers)
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Map Key to Facilities

SPIcr,': area

o e al laurchr.

0 Gas co:
H ~ 3~,

A Prrn',ri.e c3rT.grour.r3

Poptuiar ar.cnilt"3g'h

I0On the Water ::1

The oIllshore waters 01ol
the Atlantic and the more-
proiecied area ol Bis-
ca',ne B.a. o3ier a rear-
round spot lor recreation
Sairwater fishing can be
enljoed in all seasons In
ine ocean marlin and
saiisih are two popular
catches in the Da snap.
cer. grrouper sea Iroult
ana Spanisn mackerel are
caught A hisnng ihcene-
iF noi r ,aurTa biji .,i
m js idDe, Florida s regu-
lalions on Eize number
S.easor and meirnod of
lake You can lake stone
crabs in season Blue
crabs can De laken ,ear-
round Loosters are pro-
lecled in mIe Cay but can
be taken outside Water-
Skiing i a3llc ed Skiers
should avi,0d mooring
sites and watcn for swim-
mers and diners

Rules and Safety Tips
Na. igatingh me awlers of
Bisca'ne can be tricky
Be sure o lake adequate
orecaulons for vour trip

Presailing Checklist
Before leaving shore
check: the earnerr fore-
cast sea conditions, and
tldes Among the gear
,cou should pack are a
U S Coast Guard-
ann.-' vnr. prcrnnal ni t.
tior device (PFD). such
as a iiielacket for each
Passenger signaling
eQuirimemn,.nd enough
fuel or a round tlr,
Anciher es-enfhial is
NOAA nauiicai cnart
114E.1 which shows naz-
ardous areas in delai Do
not use the mao at lell for
navigation Let someone
know where ,ou are
going and where, /ou
expect Io return
Salety Afloat The e' 1to
sale boantirg in Biscaone
is to staaleri Watch Ine
*eainer closely Storms
can mo,.e e, irreme,.
Quickly bringing witn
them rougn seas and the
danger of ligrining Moni-
tor marine wealner radio
broadcasts If a storm
breakssuddenly seek

the nearest sale harbor
Be especally careful
when boating outside
marked channels Re-
duce your speed o,.er
shoals reels and other
shallvw areas Don t lei
,our propeller drag and
scar the ba, bottom

Strong currents are com-
mon along the outer reels
and in cuts between the
k a. If -"*. l-e nn! .i r _--
boa6t to swim, 6e sure it is
well-anchored. Don t lei
currents carry you away
from your boat

Watch lor swimmers and
diers -.,'hen nearng a
moored boat. or air, area
where Ihey might be ex-
ected II a dier 5 flag is
flown stay at least 91
rmeters 300 feel) away

Each vear propellers kill
and wound manatees Be
on the IOOKOut for them in
ne bay channels and

Map Key to Navigational Aids
Water Depths
| "- rr"rer :I I -| '35 melt i |').2 r 35 6 melern
ri.-. ir- h li', I'^ -1 leer .i __ l- Cr i f,- l

Shallows and Reefs Corl re t; ir,, i.e
I j .Sr.c.31 |r i.. r e re5 sarc r D lO, Ad r
I __ I Srho ,cC i .ri r Dun'C in3CE

Channel Markers ienlcr.r.rg Irm aia rjjd'i
r-;- | rC r.aan.' I- "I l ''ar'.. 1ia r d.nar.a
o Ia.mar. I+ I ,-..... I /S \ cirar, er
A i Pon-rnar.'.d .,arir I
--_ I IrOd ca .umrred' __ Piri-hana marer Porl-hand soar

Other Aids and Landmarks
I 3 J ir.r.g iger ..F.z au Dir Con| Lininu.. e

DMc.r'r.g Duo, Boundar.., arker I Toer

Wnari, I 0r.l, I .- Sirar.owe _PSP Spherical buoy

Boaling Markers and Flags
Ki'r' ., Tr.- :.-.rr,m.:sn muo. : signs ard i]i ,'g. Tnc re a -Fe ,nh.l1 ic O ai na lg ila
Cnannel Markersien["r.r.,g ir.m .ea ir1li
:.rl i'.jd-num.eredl SA ~ar ioara ire.ein.num erel Som older markers
L. nlillasn cgrE.n A L.ahlliaSred anrG o jri. ma3rers

Regulalory Signs
* Kle,.:.ui

r. ..olier LsaDnP

0 .sEe &Opl -m- fon

Slorm Warning Flags
F,.,r up -~'aen.i'yrlr-,, ~ 'T51* t 'U 61 C~i aolle i6,'i-87 Pri

m rr' ra,.:ro r~ :r'i0. ', Hi-.:n.Ir,
r~,s 1 ? r2 C r.'r^r~n- 1.yl r 5l,.r'.. r,. Oil,' .j~ii8A- i* Horrcari -n an s
c ~ I C.,ii .: ,- 3iE-5J. arni'irg4, P rE *7rr ., nri I r. T4 mp C.,

Trie keys can be reached
onl', b, Doal Developed
recreation areas and ser-
. ces are limited to a iew
islands Boar luel suD.
plies and lood are nol
sold on an/ island but are
a'.ailable at mainland
marinas Drinking water
is a.aieable onl, on Etlion

Elliolt Key Free opal
docks are located at
Elliort Ke, Harbor and
Uni..ersii/ Dock ou
must make reservations
to moor o" ernight at
Univers:ly, Dock call
13051 24-7.PARK Elliott
Ke., Visitor Center is open
eekeknds nds and inlermn.t
lenti on weekda',s Ac-
tI.'Ir, c r.edules and
e>- hbii are displd, ed

A campground itin pic-
nic 13iles and lire grills is
open on a first-come firsi-
served basis No tee is


charged Drinking water
restrooms and showers
arenearbt Backcounlry
camping is allowed Dy
cermii only and popular
overnight anchorage
sites are locale o.flshore
The island also has a sell-
guiding nature Irail

Adams Key Airee boar
dock, picnic area rest-
rooms and nature trail
are available for da., use
.-nl.i An inlormai.on
station is opera inter-

Sands Key Backcoun-
Ir. campirig is allowed by
permit onl/ Popular over-
night anchorage Sites are
IOC aled olishore

Rules and Safety Tips
The entire park is a wild-
lile refuge. but the
Arsenicker Keys are
carlicularly important as
a bird nesting area do
not disturb Inthese leys
West ArsenicKer and
Arsenicker Keys are
closed to the publiC If
/ou plan to camp in the
Dackcountr; pick up a
free permit at head-
quarters or Ellion Key
Vistior Center Back-
counlirycamping is
allowed onlvon Eilioh
and Sands Keys Be sure
lo pack out all irash on
rne kes Persmusi
alwa/E be kept on a leash
no longer than 2 meters
(6 feel Some pri.ale
property slill exists on
the ke',s. please respect
owners rights A lew
tropical plants can cause
painlul itching do not
louCh plants you don t
recognize as harmless

I nteResS

Exploringhe reels is
best on cam- sunr- days
Bothlthe outer reels
along fhil park s eastern
'oundari and hMe t31ch
reefs closer to sore ot-
ler oDportunities for snor-
keling and, But
strong currents oncur on
the outer reels l unless.
you are experienced we
recommend Inal ,ou slay
cn rhe calmer palcn reefs

The park sells reel guide-
books at Elliott Key
Visflor Center and Con-
vo, Poinr Inlormaiion
Siation A tree' Skin
Diver Guide to patch
reels marked by d)ue and
A.%,hilt mooring buoy S is
also available See map
for mooring buoy
locations Ranger-
guided snorkeling lours
are otlered

Rules and Safely Tips
Whenever you visiI the
reefs. eercisecaution

Protecting Yourself
Snorkelers and di,,ers
must display Ihe standard
diver s 1lag to warn boal-
trs oi their presence Be
war, of approaching
boats. propellers have in-
lured divers Never swim
alone and ala,,s have
one per on stay on board

Generally reel animals
will not harm you ii /ou
leave them alone It is
good practice not to
touch an,tihng een t lI
looks harmless Even
,coral can cause deep
"sloA-healing cuts Few
barracuda or shark at-
racks occur bult boih fisl
should be considered
dangerous and watched
carefully, You mignt want
to 1alk wIih a ranger

about hazards before
venturing out

Protecting the Reel
Remember rnal the reefs
are alive Do not anchor
in them anchors damage
the reels and Kill the
coral animals Anchor in-
.iead in a nearby, sandy
bottom Avoid disturbing
or injuring any reef inhab-
itant Standing or sitting
on coral or iust grasping
it. can break or injure it
Resisl Ithe lemolation to
take home a souvenir; it
is illegal and diminishes
the reef s beauty for Ihe
neml ..isitor Historical
artifacts such as ship-
wreck ruins are pro.
lecied too Do not deface
or remove them


1 Kilometers =826 MIAMI
0 10 Kilometers KEY BISCAYNE

urIke Biscayne
f"i r i /Park
NATIONAL Homestead Coneoy -Point n
PARK Flor;da lnlormanon Stat n
To Key/ ~est /

Fender Point

FI R 4 sec-"th-t-4M


KtY ,,
Snapper Point (

Fl G PA '
(privately maintained)




,,-ancl US

Jeff Heywood

Biscayne National Park has the simple beauty of a child's undersea life, preserve a scenic subtropical setting, and provide Tropical life thrives. The land is filled to overflowing with an watch a passing procession of some of the sea's most fascinating
drawing. Clear blue water. Bright yellow sun. Big sky. Dark an outstanding spot for recreation and relaxation, unusual collection of trees, ferns, vines, flowers, and shrubs. inhabitants.
green woodlands. And here and there a boat, a bird. It is a Forests are lush, dark, humid, ever-green. Many birds, butterflies,
subtropical place where a mainland mangrove shoreline, a warm In most parks land dominates the picture. But Biscayne is not and other animals live in these woods. Whether on the reefs, the keys, the bay, or the mainland you
shallow bay, many small islands, or keys, and living coral reefs like most parks. Here water and sky overwhelm the scene in leave behind what is familiar and become acquainted with
intermingle. Together they comprise a vast, almost pristine ever i ion, leaving the bits of low-lying land looking remote No less odd or diverse is Biscayne's underwater world. At its another world that is strange and wild. Biscayne is a different
wilderness and recreation area along the southeast edge of the and insignificant. This is paradise for marine life, water birds, center are the coral reefs. Unlike the ocean depths, which are as sort of national park. Expect the unexpected.
Florida peninsula. boaters, fishermen, snorkelers, and divers alike. The water is dark and lifeless as the innermost chambers of a cave, the
refreshingly clean, extraordinarily clear. Only the maintenance shallow water reefs are inundated with light and life. Brilliantly
Biscayne is Florida's other, lesser known, national park. Estab- of the natural interplay between the mainland, Biscayne Bay, colorful tropical fish and other curious creatures populate the
lished as a national monument in 1968, it is located just 34 keys, and reefs, and the Atlantic Ocean keeps it that way. reefs. Their appearances and behavior are as exotic as their
kilometers (21 miles) east of Everglades National Park. In 1980 it names-stoplight parrotfish, finger garlic sponge, goosehead
was enlarged to 70,800 hectares (175,000 acres) and designated The region's Caribbean-like climate saturates the park with scorpionfish, princess venus, peppermint goby. A reef explorer
as a national park to protect a rare combination of terrestrial atdi year-round wari-th, generous sunshine, and abundant rainfall. can spend hours driving lazily in iiihe waters above the reefs and

In Biscayne, the main-
land mangrove shore-
line has been preserved
almost unbroken. For
many years these trees
of tropical and subtropi-
cal coasts were consid-
ered almost worthless.
Some were cut for tim-
ber or used to make
charcoal. But as recently
as the 1960s the man-
grove wilderness was
referred to as "a form of
wasteland." Like thou-
sands of other wetlands,
it was cleared or filled to
make way for harbors
and expanding cities.
But in Biscayne man-
groves are considered
vital to the well-being of
the park and surround-
ing areas. Without them,
there would be fewer
fish for fishermen and
fewer birds for birders.
Biscayne Bay would be-
come murky. And areas
inland would be exposed
to the full violence of
Beyond the Darkness
It is hard to see what lives
in the brackish waters of
the mangrove swamps.
They are stained brown
by tannins from the trees.
Hidden in this darkness,
among the maze of roots,
is a productive nursery
for all sorts of commer-
cial, sport, and reef fish.
Here the young find not
only shelter but also
food. Fallen mangrove
leaves feed bacteria and
other microorganisms,
and so begins a food web
that supports not only the

neu iangiyiven
marine animals of the
mangroves but also visi-
tors like barracudas and
birds that nest and roost
in the treetops.
Defending the Coast
The mangrove forest ap-
pears as a nearly impene-
trable fortress. Perhaps
a snake or mosquito can
move through easily, but
little else can. It makes
an effective protective
buffer between the main-
land and Biscayne Bay.
It guards the bay from
being dirtied by eroded
I"soil and pollutants wash-
ing from the land by trap-
ping them in its tangle of
roots. The mangroves
also stand as a natural
line of defense against
the strong wind and
waves of hurricanes.
"Freaks" of Nature
Mangroves have been
called freaks, and a close
look reveals why. Roots
of the red mangrove arch
stilt-like out of the wa-
ter or grow down into the
water from overhead
branches. The roots of
the black mangrove look
like hundreds of cigars
planted in the mud; they
are breathing organs
necessary for survival in
this waterlogged environ-

"The water of Biscayne
Bay is exceedingly clear.
In no part can one fail to
clearly distinguish ob-
jects on the bottom ... "
biologist Hugh Smith
wrote in 1895. Today the
shallow waters of this
tropical lagoon are still
remarkably transparent.
They serve as a blue-
tinted window to a world
of starfish, sponges,
crabs, sea urchins, fish of
all sizes and kinds, and
hundreds of other marine
plants and animals,
The bay is a huge reser-
voir of natural riches,

teeming with unusual, val-
uable, and rare wildlife.
It is home for many; tem-
porary refuge and feed-
ing ground for others;
birthplace and nursery
for still others. It is a be-
nign powerhouse, de-
signed to draw energy
from the sun and use it to
support a complex and
far-reaching web of life.
One unusual animal that
depends on this web is
the manatee. This gentle
blubbery giant visits the
bay in winter to graze
peacefully on turtle and
manatee grasses. It is
the water's warmth and
ample food supply that
attracts this endangered
marine mammal.
A Sanctuary for Birds
Birds are drawn to the
bay year-round. Each fol-
lows its own instincts for
survival. Brown pelicans

Brown pelican
patrol the surface of the
bay, diving to catch their
prey. Reddish egrets
lurch and leap after small
fish and crustaceans in
the shallows.
Large colonies of little
blue herons, snowy
egrets, ana other wading
birds nest seasonally in
the protected refuge of
the Arsenicker Keys. The
extremely shallow waters
surrounding these man-
grove islands in the south
bay are especially well
suited for foraging.
A History of Abundance
The coastal wilderness of
south Florida was the
first spot in North Amer-
ica discovered by Euro-
peans. Spanish explorer
Ponce de Leon sailed
across Biscayne Bay in
search of the mythical
Fountain of Youth in
Later, travelers like land
surveyor Andrew Ellicott
recorded the bounty of
life in the region. "Fish
are abundant," Ellicott
wrote in 1799. "[Sea]
Turtles are also to be had
in plenty; those we took
were of three kinds; the
loggerhead, hawk-bill,
ar.d green."

In the 1800s and early
1900s many settlers of
the keys earned their liv-
ing from the bay. Among
them were Key West
fishermen, who collected
fast-growing, "fine qual-
ity" bay sponges and
sold them.
An Underwater
Today commercial and
weekend fishermen,
snorkelers, and boaters
still reap bountiful re-
wards from the bay. The
bay's good health is re-
flected in the numbers of
different kinds of fish-

calling on aiscayne Bay
more than 250-that
spend part of their lives
in it. Many of the fish that
dazzle snorkelers and di-
vers on the coral reefs by
day feed in the bay at
night. And, like the man-
grove shoreline, the bay
plays a critical role as a
fish nursery. The young
of many coral reef fish,
such as parrot and but-
terfly fish, and sport fish,
such as grunts, snappers,
and the highly prized
Spanish mackerel, find
food and shelter from big
hungry predators in the
bay's thick jungle of ma-
rine grasses.
Images of the Bay
Peering into the crystal
waters of Biscayne Bay, it
is hard to imagine either
its past or future as
clouded. The bay seems
suspended in time. While
neighboring Miami has
mushroomed into a me-
tropolis of more than 1 Y2
million people, the bay
appears to have captured
the magic of the Foun-
tain of Youth that eluded
Ponce de Leon. It has re-
mained beautiful and rela-
tively unspoiled. Though
thousands of years old, it
is still vibrant with life.
But this has not always
been true.
Earlier in this century
parts of the bay were
dying. In areas north of
where the park is now,
pollutants were poison-
ing the bay and con-
struction was sending
suffocating amounts of
sediments into it. Today,
after years of cleanup,
the north bay is recover-
ing and the rest of the bay
remains nearly pristine.
In 1895 biologist Hugh
Smith declared that Bis-
cayne Bay was "one of
tne tinest ooaies of water
on the coast of Florida."
In another hundred years,
if well-protected, it still
could be.

Florida mainland

The Keys *'
4.:.^ '

One hundred thousand
years ago the Florida
Keys were "under con-
struction." The builders
were billions of coral
animals, each not much
larger than a period on
this page. Together they
constructed a 240-kilo-
meter (150-mile) long
chain of underwater coral
reefs. When these reefs
later emerged from the
sea, they became the
many islands of the Flor-
ida Keys. If you look
closely, you can see fos-
sil coral rock on Bis-
cayne's islands.
A Tropical Paradise
Gumbo limbo. Jamaican
dogwood. Strangler fig.
Devil's-potato. Satin-leaf.
Bromrr, l; ,: t.1 h.,:,,
In trh, ...:,jnr, .:,ni, hin,
pockets in south Florida
contain this mixture of
tropical trees and shrubs
common in the West
Indies. North-flowing air
and ocean currents and
storms delivered the pio-
neer seeds and plants
that eventually grew into
the islands' lush, dark,
jungle-like forests.
Walking along a trail
through one of these
forests, called hardwood
hammocks, you are likely
to see other natives of the
tropics. Zebra butterflies
and rare Schaus swallow-
tails find refuge in the
thick tangle of leaves,
branches, and vines.
Golden orb weavers be-
tray their presence with

large yellow spider webs.
Birds and a few mam-
mals also share these
isolated, mangrove-
fringed keys.
Indians to Millionaires
Over the years the is-
lands here attracted many
people who were wiiiing
to risk the chance of a hur-
ricane and the certainty
of pesky bugs. Indians
were the first. Tree-cut-
ters from the Bahamas
came later and felled
massive mahoganies for
ships. Early settlers on
Elliott Key cleared for-
ests and planted groves
of key limes and pine-
apples. Throughout the
keys subtropical forests
were destroyed; Bis-
cayne preserves some of
the finest left today.
The islands abound with
legends of pirates and
buried treasure. Many
shipwrecks, victims of
high seas and the treach-
erous reefs, lie offshore.
Fortune hunters, boot-
leggers hl-r, ;-TMj-,jl, ra.
artists, )a.n,.I .rr. rrni ,-n.
aires, and four Presidents
have all spent time on
the keys of Biscayne.

Dive into the undersea
realm of the coral reefs
and you will discover a
feast for the eyes. It is a
living kaleidoscope of
gaudy colors, bold pat-
terns, intricate designs,
and peculiar shapes.
Alien, yet inviting, the life
of the reefs excites and
mystifies snorkelers and
scientists alike.
The Reef Builders
Among the most puz-
zling creatures are the
corals. Early biologists
suspected they were
plants. But each coral-
each brain, finger, or

staghorn coral-is actu-
ally a colony of thou-
sands of tiny, soft-bodied
animals. These animals,
called polyps, are rela-
tives of the sea anenome
and jellyfish. Rarely seen
in the day, the polyps
emerge from their hard,
stony skeletons at night.
It is then that they feed,
catching drifting plank-
ton in their outstretched

Alan Benoit

team effort of billions of
individuals. Each extracts
building material-cal-
cium-from the sea and
uses it to make itself a
protective tube-shaped
skeleton. Together, hun-
dreds of these skeletons
make a coral. Many cor-
als, growing side by side
and one on top of the
other, form a reef.
Corals are very particular
about where they build
reefs. Like the offshore
seas of Biscayne, the wa-
ter must be just the right
temperature (no lower
than 200C, or 680F), just

the right depth (no deeper
than 60 meters, or 200
feet), and be clean and
well-lit. Such conditions
exist all along the Florida
Keys in and south of Bis-
cayne and in the Carib-
) bean, as well as in some
other tropical oceans.
An Undersea Metropolis
The reefs are the cities of
the sea. In and around
them lives a huge and
diverse population of fish
and other marine crea-
tures. Every hole, every
crack is a home for some-
Sr, ome inhabitants,
ir,. Christmas tree

worm, even live an-
chored to the coral. And
there is food to satisfy all
tastes. Corals are eaten
by flamingo tongues,
which are snail-like mol-
lusks, and fish. Fish are
food for other fish, and,
quite often, for seafood

Fishes of the Reef

"In variety, in brilliance
of color, in elegance of
movement, the fishes
may well compare with
the most beautiful assem-
ui im bhus du ill LrupicL i
climates," Louis Agassiz,
19th century French nat-
uralist, wrote after visit-
ing the Florida reefs.
Reefs are in fact host to
the ocean's most spec-
tacular galaxies of fish.

French angelfish
Stephen Frink

Along Biscayne's reefs
more than 200 types of
fish can be spotted. Each
holds its own fascination
for us. Some are impres-
aloe i ,3:Z6, cia i
color. Some are gro-
tesque, others danger-
ous. or are they? Many
behave in bizarre, unex-
plainable ways, at least to
humans. Few places on
earth can match the di-
versity of life that inhab-

its the reefs' underwater
A Sea of Color
Imagine the most color-
iul scene iyou hiave vr
seen-a field of wild-
flowers, the glittering
lights of a city at night, a
desert sunset. Whatever
it may be, the dazzling
spectrum displayed by
the reef fish will equal or
surpass it. The range ex-

tends from the most flam-
boyant-the angelfish,
the wrasses, the parrot-
fish, the neon gobies-to
ones that are quite drab
and ordinary.
There is much specula-
tion about what role the
colors play. The answer
differs for each fish. An
eye-grabbing wardrobe
may serve as a kind of
billboard, advertising a

fish's presence. Vividly
colored wrasses attract
other fish in this way so
they can clean them of
parasitesand dead tissue,
and, :n return, got a f-ir
meal. Multicolored bars,
stripes, and splotches
blur the outline of other
fish, making it difficult for
predators to see them
against the complex
background of the coral

Some fish are masters of
disguise. Many turn dif-
ferent colors at night,
presumably to conceal
themselves from noc-
tumr! prodatorr. Tho
well-camouflaged moray
eel blends in neatly
with the surrounding
reefs. Unsuspecting fish
that swim too close often
get caught between the
eel's powerful jaws and
needle-sharp teeth.

A Montage of Motion
While morays are seden-
tary creatures, most fish
swim freely about the
reefs. Some, like the soli-
tary angelfish, move with
deliberate grace. Others
dart about in schools of
thousands of fish, mov-
ing together with the pre-
cision of choreographed
dancers. Each closeknit
group offers protection
to its members.

Reef fish are noted for
their eccentric behavior.
One interesting inhabit-
ant is the sharp-beaked
parrotfish. It can be seen,
or even heard, munching
on coral. An odd meal for
a fish? Not really, be-
cause along with the
rock the parrotfish is de-
vouring algae and coral
polyps, too.

Jeff Rotman

~nsr ~ann~BII~__

I Key