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Dry Tortugas Research Natural Area

Dry Tortugas National Park

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A Research Natural Area is a special park designation for habitats that we manage. That allows us to perform essential, research in science. At Dry Tortugas National Park, the Research Natural area is an area where fishing is not allowed, where anchoring is not allowed, and this helps to protect the extraordinary natural and cultural resources in those areas and allow for study of those resources without any impacts or minimal impact from humans. Now of course that doesn’t mean that humans cannot go into these areas and experience them, as a matter of fact the park service mission requires and it’s our goal to enhance the visitor experience and we will have designated dive sites which allow folks to go and see some of the spectacular natural and cultural resources. But in addition to that, the Research Natural Area should have benefits that extend beyond the immediate area. We’re hopeful that there will be what we call a spillover effect in marine conservation. And that is that fish will grow bigger, they’ll produce more eggs and there’ll be more of them inside this small area that’s closed to fishing and closed to anchoring and that the spillover will allow those animals to go outside the boundaries of the Research Natural Area and provide more fish for recreational fishermen that are using areas that are not closed and provide more fish and other invertebrate resources to the entire keys region. What the public should expect in five to ten years, we’ll be able to provide results that show that the abundance and size structure of species in the Research Natural Area increasing and we’re also hopeful that, an additional project that we have going on which is the survey in which we’re directly interacting with the public to determine how higher they rate in their visitor experience when historically they’re diving in the Research Natural Area. We’re hoping that the results of that survey will demonstrate that the visitor experience has been enhanced, so we’re hoping that visitors see more fish, that the fish are larger that they’re seeing and that their really seeing a perfect snapshot of a coral reef shallow water ecosystem that is reminiscent of a natural system that is unimpacted by human

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Video about the natural and cultural resources within Dry Tortugas National Park and the value of creating a Research Natural Area.