Gopher tortoise on Egmont key.

Gopher tortoises, like this one, are everywhere on Egmont key.

Egmont Key is a state park as well as a national wildlife refuge and bird sanctuary. One form of wildlife you'll certainly see is tortoises. The island abounds with tortoises: both smaller, more colorful box turtle, and the burrowing gopher tortoise. Gopher tortoises live in burrows in the sand. It may share its home with a snake or lizard, so don't explore with your hand.

There will often be a mound of sand, excavated from the burrow, right in front of the entrance. Don't walk on this, because it may have eggs buried in it.

Gopher tortoise snacks on a leafy lunch

Gopher tortoise snacks on a leafy lunch.

Box turtle on Egmont key brick road

This box turtle moves quickly (for a turtle) across the brick road.

Beach erosion constantly endangers Egmont key

Manmade fortifications or nature's beaches--nothing is spared by the forces of erosion.

Erosion is a major problem for Egmont Key. The beautiful beaches on the gulf side of the island are disappearing at an alarming rate. The remains of the gun batteries are being destroyed just as surely as any manmade bombardment could ever do. And the erosion reaches up onto the island and destroys all kinds of native habitat.

Beach erosion eats away at Egmont key

At one time the ocean was hundreds of yards further out. Egmont key is constantly being eaten away by erosion.

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