Key West Tours – Take in the Iconic Wildlife
The easy going way of life at Key West is complemented by the awesome range of wildlife that you get to see
out here. There are so many state parks, sanctuaries, and wildlife refuges. The residents love their wildlife and
take a lot of trouble to protect both, the species and the habitat.
Dolphins are perhaps the stars of the wildlife pageant at any of the Key West Tours. But there’s lots more than
just this species. Some of the iconic wildlife species of Key West include turtles, manatees, lobsters, white
tailed deer, and...chickens and iguanas. Yes believe it or not the Key West chicken are seen all over Key West
and the iguanas have absolutely invaded areas such as the Key West Cemetery.
Turtles of Key West
4 different species of turtles are found in the waters around Key West – the loggerhead turtle with its strong
jaws, the hawksbill turtle with its characteristic hawk-like mouth, the green sea turtle, and the rarest of rare…
Kemp Ridley turtle. The best place to watch these turtles is in the Dry Tortugas area. In fact, Tortugas is the
Spanish word for turtle. That’s why the early Spaniards gave the area the name Dry Tortugas.
In the old days, Key West had such a large population of turtles that it had a booming turtle soup canning
industry flourishing here. The Turtle were caught in very large numbers and stored in marine pens called turtle
kraals before they were slaughtered and canned for the much loved turtle soup. The business did so well that
they almost wiped out the turtle population. To prevent extinction of these species, the turtles are now protected
by the law and declared endangered species. Hunting turtles is completely banned.
The Turtle Kraals of old are now a historic sigh-seeing spot in Old Town. Sometimes they organize turtle races
at these Kraals.
It’s quite common to see turtles at all the different marinas and among the mangroves trails in Key West. There
are several Turtle Rescue Centers in Key West and they do a great job of rescuing turtles trapped by fishing
nets, or hurt by the propellers of all the fishing boats.
Manatees of Key West
If you go camping out at Fort Jefferson, you are almost guaranteed to see a manatee in the large moat
surrounding the fort. Manatees are very slow, relaxed, swimmers. They roam the sea bottom grazing on the sea
grass there. If you are really lucky, you might see a mother and calf or even a calf suck at its mother’s
Manatees are actually air-breathing herbivores. They can eat about 150 pounds of sea grass every day. With
such large appetites they are also large in size. A full grown Manatee can grow up to 900 pounds.
While you are Kayaking the mangroves keep a sharp lookout for these beautiful creatures and if you see one,
you should stay a safe distance and avoid disturbing it while it is feeding.