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Thrinax radiata and Coccothrinax argentata forests in the Florida Keys!


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#1 kylecawazafla

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 03:07 PM

Here are some photos taken at Curry Hammock State Park on the Marathon Key in the Florida Keys on Wednesday afternoon. My friend and I decided to make a day trip down to Key West from Miami. It is about 140 miles from Miami to the end, but it is possible to make it a day trip with many stops. One of our stops included this state park. The Florida Keys are formed by an old coral reef which has now turned into Key Largo Limestone. It is very porous and the holes are mosquito breeding grounds. Even though it is December, the water is still warm enough to snorkel in, and mosquitos are still very abundant in the forests... even in the middle of the day! I can't imagine any part of the Keys naturally being more than 15 feet above sea level, but there is still lots of exposed rock nevertheless. They are also very prone to Hurricanes. It is one of the best drives you can do in Florida on a sunny day, since you island hop over turquoise waters and eel grass beds for hours on end.

The Keys are a very narrow stretch of islands. When you are not on a bridge, there are portions where you can see the ocean feet from the road on both sides.
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A few of the beaches resemble what you would see in post cards! There is actually only one natural beach in the Keys, and that is this one in Bahia Honda State Park.
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Now, while we're at Bahia Honda State Park, here is their native stand of Coccothrinax argentata... or the Silver Palm! It is very abundant on this Key and also semi-present on a few of the other keys on either side. This is where you would find the tallest ones. They are extremely slow growing, so these palms, particularly the taller ones, must have withstood many hurricanes over the decades or even centuries.

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There are even a few Leucothrinax morrisii mixed in with the C. argentatas. None of them are too tall. They seem to all seem at home in the sand.
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#2 kylecawazafla

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 03:08 PM

Some of the stands are thick enough to cover the floor with their leaf litter.
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This one had a particularly thick trunk.
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This is the tallest one I saw.... probably about 7-8 meters tall (22 - 26 feet)
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Even though there is not much soil on the Florida Keys, there are some pretty lush forests! It must be all the rain! This one on Marathon Key is filled with Thrinax radiata.
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#3 kylecawazafla

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 03:09 PM

This is what the floor of the forest looks like! Pretty amazing since there is no soil! When you step over these holes, hundreds of mosquitos rush out of them to bite you..... Fortunately they don't seem to be as agile as the summer mosquitos.
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The lack of soil leaves many of the Thrinax radiata roots exposed.
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The path through the forest. If you are swatting mosquitos and breaking through spider webs as you are walking through this forest, you might want to be careful.

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You might end up with one of these in your face.....
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#4 kylecawazafla

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 03:09 PM

And one of these at your ankles!! (Our native viper! The Cottonmouth)
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Before it slithers away
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Here is me in the photo to scale the leaf size of the Thrinax radiata!
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Here is a photo to illustrate the lack of beaches in the Keys! It is a solid limestone block! Over here, the water was about 7 feet deep only a few meters from the shore. There were many sponges and tropical fish visible from this vantage point. This is on the inside shore of the Keys facing the Everglades.
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#5 kylecawazafla

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 03:10 PM

The coastline is softer on the open ocean side of the Keys facing South towards Cuba... .which is only 90 miles South! Look at how calm the water is! It is so shallow that you can walk out nearly a kilometer and still be able to stand!
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Rhizophora mangle and Avicennia germinans (Red and Black Mangrove) Forest
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Here are a few Avicennia germinans growing on the open ocean.
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Well that's it! I hope you enjoyed the photos. Here is a random swing my friend and I discovered when we stopped on the side of the road to look at the water.

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#6 PalmatierMeg

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 03:53 PM

Kyle, those are stunning photos! What a beautiful place. Thanks.
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I'd like to be under the sea in an octopus' garden in the shade.


#7 Stevetoad

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 10:49 PM

Awesome photos! Keep it up... Posted Image
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#8 palmislandRandy

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 05:58 AM

Thanks for the photos Kyle, I'm due for a leisurely ride South & I'll check out Curry Hammock State Park. I'm usually in a rush, headed straight to Key West to fish.

-Randy
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#9 Jeff Searle

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 09:21 AM

Kyle,

What great photos, thanks! Over many years, I've been down to Key West many,many times and never get tired of looking at the scenery. For those of you that never have been to the Florida Keyes, I highly reccomend this area as a vacation spot. And....for those of you that plan on going to the 2014 Biennial in Miami, the Florida Keys will be one of the featured spots that we will drive to.
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#10 gyuseppe

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 08:59 AM

And one of these at your ankles!! (Our native viper! The Cottonmouth)
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Before it slithers away
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Kyle this snake is poisonous?
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GIUSEPPE

#11 PalmatierMeg

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 11:18 AM

Giuseppe, cottonmouths are poisonous
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Meg

Palms of Victory I shall wear

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Zone 10A on the Isabelle Canal
Elevation: 15 feet

I'd like to be under the sea in an octopus' garden in the shade.


#12 Tomw

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 11:05 AM

Great pictures! Thanks for sharing; the Keys are differently one of our countries true treasures.
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#13 realarch

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 12:43 AM

Fantastic photos Kyle. Love those habitat pics, just beautiful.
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#14 Mandrew968

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 05:23 AM

I find it strange to see a cotton mouth in the keys... They do not like salt water--not even brackish water.
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#15 tank

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 05:55 AM

I find it strange to see a cotton mouth in the keys... They do not like salt water--not even brackish water.


Not strange at all, they find them all the time in brackish and salt water.

Great pics Kyle. You seem to be enjoying your new local.
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#16 Kim

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 09:55 AM

Fantastic photos, Kyle! Love those big Thrinax radiata fans, very cool!
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#17 JD in the OC

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 12:33 PM

Spectacular photos and journalism Kyle! Feel free to post anytime!
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#18 JasonD

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 06:50 PM

Stunning habitat shots! Bahia Honda makes me ecstatic every time I visit. Will have to check out Curry Hammock. I've only been to Crane Point in Marathon, which also has some impressive native woodland, though not very Thrinax- or Coccothrinax-rich. The limestone shelf on the bay side was impressive there, as were the naturalized Adonidia.
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#19 tikitiki

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 06:21 AM

My profile Pic was taken in a coconut at that park. We loveit there. Itsagreat place to take our kids to snorkel.
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#20 DoomsDave

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 11:47 AM

Oh, yeah, I still remember how wonderful the Keys were back in 2007-2008.

Good to see that nothing has changed.

Keep posting. Gives Hawaii a run for its money, and that's saying something.

Those Thrinax forests are awesome, in such a simultaneously rich and poor place.
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#21 zootropical

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 11:22 AM

I have been there last september. Keys are rich in palms and very easy to practice.


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