Geology of Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park is in the Florida Keys, and the Florida Keys have certainly been a long time in the making, around 100,000 years or so actually, and you thought your local construction firm was a little slow on the job. The builders responsible for the Florida Keys, of course, are many millions and billions of coral animals, who, working together have constructed a long chain of underwater coral reefs, amazingly it’s around 150 miles long. These reefs eventually began to emerge above the sea becoming what we all now know and love as the Florida Keys. If you take a really close look at the islands of Biscayne National Park you’ll be able to spot some of the fossilized coral rock, and if you take a dive beneath the waves to the coral reef you’ll discover an unbelievable feast of colors, patterns, designs and shapes. No wonder so many snorkelers, divers and scientists can’t get enough of this living underwater kaleidoscope.


Is it a plant?

Is it an animal?

Is it a rock formation?


Scientists for many years believed that corals were plants, but they were wrong. Every coral, every finger, every brain, every staghorn coral is in actual fact a colony of animals, tiny, soft-bodied animals  known as polyps. They’re actually related to jellyfish and the sea anemone – unbelievable as it may sound. Anyway, it’s very rare to spot a polyp during they day, they’re night creatures, that’s when they creep out from their hard, stony skeletons and begin to feed on unassuming plankton as it drifts by.

These are the master builders, the master reef builders, every reef has been created by billions of individual polyps, and when you get lots of corals growing altogether side by side it becomes a reef. Corals are a bit fussy about the location of these reefs however – yep, location, location, location is very important to coral. The water has got to be just the right depth (a maximum of 200 feet), just the right temperature (a minimum of 63 deg F), well-lit and clean, which is why the area of Biscayne National Park fits the bill exactly.

Coral reefs are underwater cities teeming with life, fish and many other weird and wonderful marine creatures exist around coral reefs, every nook, every cranny, every crack and hole is a potential home for something!

Coral reefs are beautiful, magical places to explore, which is just one small reason why people flock to Biscayne National Park each year.

I bet you didn’t realize just how important they are, you probably just thought they were pretty to look at . . .