Monday, October 19, 2009

Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park is a U.S. National Park located in southern Florida, due east of Homestead. The park preserves Biscayne Bay, one of the top scuba diving areas in the United States. Ninety-five percent of the park is water. In addition, the shore of the bay is the location of an extensive mangrove forest. The park covers 207 mi² (700 km²).

Elliott Key, the park's largest island, is considered the first of the true Florida Keys being formed from fossilized coral reef, i.e. Key Largo limestone. The islands farther north in the park are transitional islands of coral and sand.

The major attraction of the park is scuba diving or snorkeling on the coral reef inside the bay. It is also possible to take a glass-bottom boat tour of the bay, or rent kayaks to explore the bay and the islands (Florida Keys) in it. While accessing the historic homes of Stiltsville is currently not allowed by casual visitors, these structures may still be observed from boats.

The national park has confirmed the presence of the lionfish (Pterois volitans and Pterois miles) within the park. Park divers were able to capture one recently. The lionfish is a tropical species from the Indiana-Pacific Ocean area. It is known for its voracious appetite and its ability to establish itself in new waters, rapidly replacing other species.

It is believed that the introduction of this species occurred during Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Sightings in Biscayne Bay at that time, traced the fish back to home aquariums that were destroyed during the Hurricane.

No comments: