Virgina Key Geography

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Just north of Key Biscayne in sunny Miami, Virgina Key is a protected barrier Island in the Atlantic ocean. Consisting of 863 acres of land, it was once much larger, extending into the Ft. Lauderdale area. Between 1835 and 1838 hurricanes eroded the beach, creating inlets and dividing the island in two. The other portion became Fisher Island, which sits at the southernmost tip of Miami Beach.

Virgina Key was a part of the civil rights movement. In a time when blacks were prohibited from going to "whites only" beaches, a protest was held on it 's shores. This resulted in the Dade county government designating part of it as a "colored only" recreational area in 1945. Eventually, the island was closed and abandoned for over 20 years. It reopened
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These areas are home to a huge variety of wildlfe and some of the oldest plants in south Florida. There has been very little urbanization o th islan. Most of e effort hs been geared toward restoration and eradincating non native vegitation. The most significant adverse event is that Loggerhead turtles no longer nest n the beaches due to dredging material from the Port of Miami being deposited.

Methodology

Crab, lobster, snail, sea sponge, starfish and jellyfish are the six organisms that were studied. Using observationational skills, the organisms were located and collected using a dip net. All of the specimens live in salt water habitats, with crab being found both on land and in the water.

Starfish are bottom dewellers and found ether on top of, or slightly buried under the sand. They can be located by shuffling feet through the sand.

Sea sponges adhere to the coral reefs, other rocky areas and the soft mud of shallower areas. Soetimes, they can lso be found by suffling through underwater
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The nutrients that sea sponges expire feed other marine species, and in turn it is a food source for starfish. Sea snails consume algae and phytoplankton loosened by starfish on the ocean bottom, and are also a favored as food by starfish. Crab, lobster, starfish and jellyfish are all prey for larger predatory organisms, such as sharks, turtles, manatees, and ocotpus. Jellyfish eat free floating phytoplankton, and larger species will eat snail, crab, fish and other marine organisms.

Summary and Conclusions

The starfish, snails, sea sponges, lobster, crab and jellyfish specimens were easy to find due to their similar habitats. All of these species are abundant around Virginia Key. There is a lot of marine diversity in the area, with a wide variety of fish and urchins readily seen. Man has primarily impacted the park in positive ways. While there is some development, the park is protected and preservation committees work to keep enviromental impact

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