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My Essay on Dry Tortuga National Park

by LZPianoGirl

Dry Tortugas National Park


Dry Tortugas National Park is unparalleled in its combination of an undisturbed tropical ecosystem and its historic sites. The first national park was established by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872 and the National Park Service was founded in 1909. There are 59 National Parks in the United States, attracting a combined 331 million people every year. Congress designated Dry Tortugas a National Park in 1992. Since 1992, thousands of visitors travel annually to the remote destination of Dry Tortugas National Park. The park’s unique attractions and wildlife makes it a great family getaway.

My Winter Vacation to Dry Tortugas

I went to Dry Tortugas National Park over winter break with my family. We flew to Key West, Florida and took a boat from there to Dry Tortugas. Dry Tortugas is comprised of multiple islands off the southwest coast of Florida. Juan Ponce de Leon discovered Dry Tortugas in 1513, and named the cluster of pristine keys “Las Tortugas” because of all the sea turtles. Later, the area was referred to as the “Dry Tortugas” because of the lack of freshwater on the islands. The National Park earned its place in United States history when the Navy built Fort Jefferson in Dry Tortugas in 1846. The Fort served as a prison for Confederate soldiers and Union deserters in the Civil War, and is known for its infamous residents, such as Dr. Samuel Mudd, who treated John Wilkes Booth. My family and I spent an afternoon touring the Fort and its famous prison. Dry Tortugas was designated a National Park by act of Congress in October 1992, and has attracted 80,000 visitors each year since that time.

Dry Tortugas Wildlife and Ecosystem

Animal lovers and park enthusiasts from all over the country flock to Dry Tortugas to get a taste for its spectacular ecosystem and amazing animals. There are hundreds of interesting animal species, including all types of air, land, and sea species. Coral reefs surround the island, creating a perfect home for colorful reef fish, sea turtles, and stingrays. You will also catch sight of all kind of birds, including the Magnificent Frigate and the Masked Booby. You may also see over 100,000 Sooty Terns who gather annually for their nesting season on Bush Key, an island in the park. Watching and interacting with the wildlife on Dry Tortugas was part of our vacation. We spent a day snorkeling with the sea turtles on Loggerhead Key and enjoyed many evenings sitting on the beach watching the birds fly over the park’s coral reef.

The Park’s Main Attractions

Dry Tortugas has many attractions for history lovers and nature lovers alike. Fort Jefferson is the largest all-masonry fortification in the western hemisphere. It was built in 1846, and served as a Civil War federal prison. Garden Key is the main island in Dry Tortugas National Park. In addition to being the home of Fort Jefferson, Garden Key includes a campground and many places for visitors to snorkel. My family took a day excursion to Garden Key and grilled lunch at the campground. Garden Key also boasts much of the parks beaches and its wide variety of birds. Little Africa, a reef in Dry Tortugas, and Loggerhead Key, an island in the park, are known for diving and snorkeling.


My family’s trip to Dry Tortugas National Park was a memorable experience in light of the park’s unique attractions such as Fort Jefferson and its diverse wildlife. Designated a National Park in 1992, Dry Tortugas attracts thousands of visitors who journey to these islands off the coast of Key West, Florida each year. Once in Dry Tortugas, tourists can experience the park’s amazing wildlife, extraordinary attractions, and great views of coral reefs and sea life. Dry Tortugas and this country’s other 58 National Parks are national treasures that should be respected and maintained.

643 Words

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456 Reviews

Points: 71227
Reviews: 456

Sun Jan 26, 2020 6:26 am
EternalRain wrote a review...

Hiya LZ! Happy Review Day!

I really hope this paper isn't due yet and my review may help somewhat - but if you've already turned it in, maybe you can just use my advice for future papers (or completely ignore it ;))

Right off the bat, I love the first sentence - it definitely grabs me in. It does feel more like a thesis sentence than the last sentence of your intro (where thesises typically go) but I don't know how structured your essay has to be according to the typical structural rules. Anyway, I really like how the intro provides a clear direction for the essay and it easily drew me in.

Going into the "My Winter Vacation to Dry Tortugas" paragraph, I was somewhat expecting a more personal experience, but instead there was more background information. I found it interesting (especially the John Wilkes Booth doctor - who knew!), but not super relevant. The first and last sentences related to the vacation, but not much else. I think this paragraph could perhaps be put after a small paragraph about your personal experience there, like first arriving and some vivid imagery to place the reader in Dry Tortugas and to give the reader and idea of what it's like before diving into more detail.

I really liked the next two paragraphs, as they dived into the local ecosystem there and the historical sites, like Fort Jefferson. I thought they were really strong and informative.

Lastly, for the conclusion, I think the second sentence ("Designated a National Park... each year") just because it's repetitive from the intro and doesn't add much. Instead, I think a sentence or two expanding off the previous couple body paragraphs could be really effective. For example, going into WHY the animals/historical sites are important and need to be maintained. Then, it leads smoothly right to your last sentence, which nails down the point of the essay beautifully! Just some thoughts, though.

Okay, that's all I have to say! I enjoyed reading this and learning more about Dry Tortugas - I've not heard much about it at all! And I really think the theme of respecting our earth is tied in strongly with national parks, so I think this is a pretty important essay topic to be writing about as a whole. Great job! :) Happy review day!



LZPianoGirl says...

Thanks for the review!

User avatar
111 Reviews

Points: 9075
Reviews: 111

Sun Jan 26, 2020 5:57 am
tgham99 wrote a review...

Hey Lucy!! Tee here for a review. I typically only do peer reviews of essays in class so I apologize if this review isn't as helpful as I want it to be..

The essay overall is great and I like the way you broke it up into different sections. I hadn't anticipated the inclusion of a first-person, "my personal experience" section, since I'm so used to academic papers requiring everything to remain formal and impersonal. Speaking of your own vacation experience made the essay more readable because it wasn't just a regurgitation of facts as I had anticipated all essays to be!

Your grammar and spelling look good to me; I didn't find any serious issues or anything like that as I was reading through. I will say that I think you did a lot with just 643 words, which shows that you are an effective writer and descriptor.

Great job and as always, write on!!


LZPianoGirl says...

Thanks for the review!

If it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck…you should not be so quick to jump to conclusions.
— Cecil Gershwin Palmer