DescriptionBig Pine Key, between Marathon and Key West, is home to the Key deer, a miniature species maturing to the size of a large dog. By the 1950s hunting had almost annihilated this subspecies of the Virginia whitetail. With only 800-1,000 of the animals remaining, the deer still is an endangered species.
Many deer have collided with vehicles and been injured or killed. Visitors are asked to observe the speed limit and not pull over to feed or photograph deer, as doing so encourages them to approach the road.
Great White Heron and Key West national wildlife refuges also preserve area bird life. The Key West refuge also provides a safe haven for sea turtle nests. Both are accessible only by boat.
Many reefs and their undersea inhabitants are protected in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, at nearby Looe Key. Characterized by coral reefs and clear water, the sanctuary is a delight to divers. Snorkel and scuba trips can be arranged from Looe Key Dive Center on Ramrod Key at mile marker 27.5; phone (305) 872-2215 or (877) 816-3483. For additional dive shops, contact the Monroe County Tourist Development Council; phone (800) 352-5397.
Visitor InfoLower Keys Chamber of Commerce 31020 Overseas Hwy. BIG PINE KEY, FL 33043. Phone:(305)872-2411 or (800)872-3722
Things to SeeNational Key Deer Refuge