Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1974 and protects a diverse community of animals and plants, many of which are either threatened or endangered.
This island refuge was once the site of the former United States Army Fort Dade Military Reservation, and abundant reminders of this unique military past can be found scattered throughout the island today. Silent gun batteries testify to a time when mighty battleships reigned supreme on the world’s oceans, and a brick carriage road meanders across the island recalling the days when mules and horses carried military personnel and their dependents on sunny picnics to the beaches.
Today, gulls, least terns and other birds perch on the now silent batteries, while land Dwelling Gopher Tortoises and box turtles can be found eating the island’s natural vegetation. In recent years the number of sea turtles nesting has been greatly reduced due to severe beach erosion. Egmont key, an island that once quaked under the sound of massive coastal cannon fire, now resides quietly amid the sounds of wildlife as, once more, nature has taken over this little slice of Florida paradise.
Egmont Key is located at the mouth or entrance to Tampa Bay. There are no bridges connecting it to St. Petersburg (to the north) or Anna Maria Island (to the south). Access is limited to watercraft only. Private charters are available in both Manatee and Pinellas Counties for a fee.
Learn more at the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s webpage: https://www.fws.gov/egmontkey/