Florida Keys Reef System
The Florida Keys Reef Tract is the only living coral barrier reef in North America and is the 3rd largest coral barrier reef in the world. The first is the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the second is the Meso-American Reef in Belize. The Florida reef extends approximately 221 miles down the South East coast of Florida and runs parallel to the Florida Keys starting at Key Biscayne near Miami all the way down to the Dry Tortugas which are 70 miles west of Key West. The reef is found from 1 mile to 8 miles offshore.
Because the reef protects the shores of the Florida Keys from the Atlantic surf, the Florida Keys have very few sandy beaches and some are man-made.