long key state park: golden orb trail

Our next stop as we were driving down to Key West was to walk a short trail in Long Key State Park (short only because we were hot, tired, and bored; not necessarily the trail itself).  Though allegedly named for the spiders that live in the area, the only creatures we saw were small crabs that carpeted the trail and would scurry ahead of our footsteps, in search of their hidey-holes.

Mangroves had also completely taken over the area with their stilt-like roots and small spattering of yellow leaves spangled amongst the green.  Because mangroves typically get their water from the ocean, they have to desalinize their water before they can use it.  On their own they can remove about 90% of the salt in their water source; the last ten percent is sent to a “sacrificial” leaf on each branch, which begins to turn yellow and eventually die.  This process allows them to survive without a freshwater source, which would kill any other vegetation.

Their interlocking root systems also allow them to survive extreme weather systems, like hurricanes and small inlets in the mangroves forests, known as “hurricane holes,” are some of the safest places to seek refuge if you ever find yourself outside, near a mangrove forest, during a hurricane.

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