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Contact: General Park Information, 305-242-7700
Contact: Program Contact - Christopher Ziegler, 305-293-0152
Contact: Media Contact - Linda Friar, 305-242-7714
Key West, Florida: Come join park staff and celebrate 75 years of preserving the Dry Tortugas with a free lecture series in Key West Florida, beginning Tuesday, September 14. This special lecture series will offer a glimpse of the natural and cultural resources of this remote and unique jewel of the National Park Service.
Located almost 70 miles west of Key West this remote park includes a cluster of seven islands, composed of coral reefs and sand. Along with the surrounding shoals and waters, they make up Dry Tortugas National Park. The area is known for its famous bird and marine life, its legends of pirates and sunken gold, and its military past. First set aside as a National Monument in 1935 (Fort Jefferson National Monument), the park was expanded and renamed Dry Tortugas National Park in 1992.
All presentations will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Eco-Discovery Center, located at 35 East Quay Road, in Key West. The scheduled lectures are:
Tuesday, September 14 – Sea Turtle Nesting in the Dry Tortugas
Kayla Nimmo, Park Biology Technician, will discuss the life history, basic ecology, ecologic and man made threats to the species, and nesting activity of these fascinating sea creatures at the Dry Tortugas.
Wednesday, September 22 - History of the Dry Tortugas
The military history at Fort Jefferson, which includes the Civil and Spanish American Wars, is brought to life by Monroe County historian Tom Hambright.
Tuesday, September 28 – The Dry Tortugas National Park Research Natural Area and its Role in Maintaining the Health of the Florida Keys Ecosystem.
Find out from Dave Hallac, Chief of Biological Resources at Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks, what a research natural area is, as well as how the protection of a shallow coral reef located 70 miles from Key West is connected to what happens in Key Largo. Get answers to these questions and more in a short discussion that describes the history of a new marine reserve in Dry Tortugas National Park, the science to study its effectiveness, and its larger role in regional marine conservation.
Tuesday, October 5 – Beneath the Surface: Archeology of Dry Tortugas National Park
Melissa Memory, Chief of Cultural Resources for Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks, and Dr. Michelle Williams, Director of the Southeast Center of the Florida Public Archaeology Network at Florida Atlantic University, will present an overview of the rich terrestrial and underwater archeological resources in the park, as well as results of the 2009 Public Archeology excavations at Fort Jefferson.
Tuesday, October 12 – Birds of Dry Tortugas: Migrants and Breeders
Everglades National Park Wildlife Biologist Sonny Bass discusses why the Tortugas are a "must-see" for birdwatchers, as well as the importance of the area as a breeding ground for seabirds.
Tuesday, October 19 – Totten Shutter Removal and Fort Stabilization; Past, Present, and Future
Join Dry Tortugas' Exhibit Specialist Kelly Clark as she presents a brief look at removal of historic Totten Shutters that accelerated the deterioration of Fort Jefferson, an in-depth look at current stabilization work on Fort Jefferson including methods, techniques, and materials, and a brief look forward to the next steps in restoration of this important 19th century masonry fortification.
In addition to her presentation, Kelly Clark will also have a photo exhibit on display at the Eco-Discovery Center that features side-by-side photos of the national park unit in 1935 and today.
All lectures are open to the public and free of charge. For more information about these lectures, please contact park ranger Chris Ziegler at 305.293.0152 or 305.304.9277. For General Park Information call 305-242-7700. For more information about the Eco-Discovery Center, visit http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/eco_discovery.html or call 305.809.4750.
Images available at nps.gov/drto/photosmultimedia/photogallery.htm