A key is a small, low-lying coral island. Prefer all coral islands, keys are the remnants of old coral reefs, and also many tricks are still ringed by healthy reef ecosystems.Over time, the peak of a coral reef is exposed come the surface. Waves and also wind slowly transport sediment, sand, shells, and even life organisms to the exposed reef"s depositional node. A depositional node is simply a part of the reef wherein currents are less likely to erode the material deposited there. Usually, depositional nodes space at the reef"s highest elevation.Keys can carry out a rich, diverse ecosystem. The nutrient-rich sand and also sediment often support coconut palms and also other plants. Sturdy mangrove woodlands often flourish in the seaside areas that keys. The shallow, shadowed waters of these mangrove woodlands offer habitats for shorebirds, such together egrets and herons. Coral reefs that often surround keys provide one of the most biodiverse habitats ~ above the planet. Coral reefs boast an array of fish, sponges, marine mammals, and crustaceans, in addition to the corals that support the ecosystem.Native animal species in secrets are regularly smaller than their mainland counterparts. Vital deer, because that instance, are an endangered varieties native to the Florida Keys. Crucial deer are pertained to white-tailed deer, but adjusted to your small, isolated setting by evolving to flourish less than half the dimension of their North American cousins. Crucial deer weigh just 25-25 kilograms (55-75 pounds), while white-tailed deer weigh roughly 60 come 130 kilograms (130 come 290 pounds).The soil and also sediment that assistance such diverse, healthy ecosystems can likewise support agriculture. Civilization have been living on keys for thousands of years. In enhancement to coconuts, key residents often harvest mangoes, dates, guavas, and other tropic fruits. Most livestock ~ above keys, usually pigs, are introduced species.Agriculture is no a solid economic activity on keys, however. Fishing and also tourism room the keys of vital economies. Tropic waters bordering keys encompass grouper and also sharks, and also deeper waters incorporate populations of sailfish, tuna, and also other large species.Keys" white sand beaches and tropical waters make them famous vacation spots. The Florida Keys, Caribbean keys (often referred to as cays) and the tricks of Australia"s great Barrier Reef draw millions of tourist every year. The same aspects that make keys so inviting can additionally make castle vulnerable. Hundreds of tourists and a cultivation service-based economic climate (including hotels, charter boats, and also fishing opportunities) deserve to stress the an essential environment. Overfishing, particularly for sports fish such together sailfish, can dwindle regional fisheries. Tricks are additionally at danger from hurricanes, cyclones, and also sea level rise. These forces can erode the low-lying islands. Even strong tides have the right to have an influence on key beaches and seaside areas. Small keys in the Caribbean Sea have disappeared entirely—becoming sandbars—after a busy hurricane season.

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The Florida secrets National naval Sanctuary surrounds most of the Florida Keys.

Photograph by Emory Kristof, national Geographic

Tobacco CayeTobacco Caye is one artificial an essential off the shore of Belize. A local fisherman created the island by piling soil and sand on optimal of rubbish heaps. Tobacco Caye is now house to a mangrove forest, coconut palms, a fishing area that contains sharks and also conchs, and about 20 residents.

KeychainThere are about 1,700 archipelago in the Florida Keys.

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the art and science the cultivating land for growing plants (farming) or increasing livestock (ranching).