Dry Tortugas National Park

Caption: Fort Jefferson

Dry Tortugas National Park is in Florida. It is in the Gulf of Mexico. Key West is seventy miles east of Dry Tortugas. The park is made up of islands, shoals, and water. There is a cluster of seven islands made from coral reefs and sand. A shoal is a sandbar. It is a place in a body of water where sand and rocks are deposited. Some of the gulf waters are also included in the park.

The word "tortuga" means turtle in Spanish. A Spanish explorer named Ponce de Leon discovered this cluster of islands in 1513. The United States became interested in these islands in the early 1800s. The military began building a fort here in 1846. The fort was never completed. People invented better weapons. The fort was no longer needed. Today, you can visit Fort Jefferson at the park. You can see how forts were built of bricks many years ago. Workers are repairing the fort to save it for future generations.

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