A key is a small, low-lying coral island. Favor all coral islands, secrets are the remnants of ancient coral reefs, and also many keys are still ringed by healthy reef ecosystems.Over time, the optimal of a coral reef is exposed to 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 just a component of the reef where currents are less likely come erode the product deposited there. Usually, depositional nodes room at the reef"s greatest elevation.Keys can provide a rich, diverse ecosystem. The nutrient-rich sand and also sediment often support coconut palms and other plants. Sturdy mangrove woodlands often flourish in the coastal areas the keys. The shallow, shadowed waters of these mangrove forests offer habitats because that shorebirds, such as egrets and also herons. Coral reefs that often surround keys provide one of the most biodiverse habitats top top the planet. Coral reefs boast variety of fish, sponges, naval mammals, and also crustaceans, in addition to the corals that assistance the ecosystem.Native animal types in tricks are regularly smaller than their mainland counterparts. Key deer, for instance, are an endangered species native to the Florida Keys. Vital deer are concerned white-tailed deer, but adapted to their small, isolated setting by evolving to thrive less than fifty percent the dimension of their North American cousins. Key deer weigh just 25-25 kilograms (55-75 pounds), while white-tailed deer weigh around 60 to 130 kilograms (130 come 290 pounds).The soil and sediment that assistance such diverse, healthy ecosystems can additionally support agriculture. World have been living on secrets for hundreds of years. In enhancement to coconuts, crucial residents frequently harvest mangoes, dates, guavas, and also other tropic fruits. Many livestock ~ above keys, generally pigs, are presented species.Agriculture is no a strong economic activity on keys, however. Fishing and also tourism are the secrets of vital economies. Dry waters bordering keys incorporate grouper and sharks, and also deeper waters include populations of sailfish, tuna, and also other big species.Keys" white sand beaches and also tropical waters do them popular vacation spots. The Florida Keys, Caribbean keys (often called cays) and the tricks of Australia"s good Barrier Reef attract millions of tourist every year. The same facets that make tricks so inviting can also make them vulnerable. Thousands of tourists and a farming service-based economic situation (including hotels, charter boats, and fishing opportunities) have the right to stress the key environment. Overfishing, especially for sport fish such together sailfish, have the right to dwindle regional fisheries. Keys are likewise at hazard from hurricanes, cyclones, and sea level rise. These pressures can erode the low-lying islands. Even strong tides can have an impact on vital beaches and seaside areas. Little keys in the Caribbean Sea have disappeared entirely—becoming sandbars—after a busy hurricane season.

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The Florida keys National maritime Sanctuary surrounds most of the Florida Keys.

Photograph by Emory Kristof, national Geographic

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

KeychainThere are roughly 1,700 islands in the Florida Keys.

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the art and science that cultivating land for growing crops (farming) or elevating livestock (ranching).