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U.S. Geological Survey

South Florida Information Access - Virtual Tour

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Blowing Rocks Preserve

| Dune Path | On the Boardwalk |

Walk the boardwalk along the edge of the Indian River Lagoon.

A photo gallery is available for this page. [Photos taken April, 2000]

On the boardwalk
photo of spanish bayonet
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A flowering spanish bayonet seen just before the boardwalk on the western side of Blowing Rocks Preserve. Cream-colored flowers of the spanish bayonet grow in large stalks from the center, usually during the spring. Spanish bayonet has long, stiff, dagger-like leaves that can grow to about 2 feet long.

Spanish bayonet is a native of Mexico. It can be found in Florida's coastal areas, and less frequently, inland.

Don't get crabby with us!

photo of fiddler crabs on the move!
Click on the image above to see the crabs in action.
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Looking down from the boardwalk at the low tidal waters of the Indian River Lagoon heavily populated with fiddler crabs. Even from the boardwalk, it is easy to identify the male fiddler crab because of his one large claw. The male's larger claw is used to attract females and to defend territory.

At both low and high tide, fiddler crabs come out of their burrows in search of food. They eat by picking up sediment with their claw and scraping food materials such as decaying plant matter from the sediment. The sediment is then placed back down on the ground.

Concealed in this photo is a male and female fiddler crab. Female fiddler crabs have two small claws while males have one small claw and one much larger claw. The male's larger claw is used to attract females and to defend territory. Small claws are used for picking up sediment and eating. Click on the photo to see a larger picture of the crabs. photo of male and female crabs
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Buttonwoods and Mangroves
A buttonwood seen from the boardwalk of Blowing Rocks Preserve. This evergreen grows as a shrub or tree and has leathery, elliptical leaves that are pointed at both ends. Buttonwoods produce clusters of flowers that form a button-like seed case.

The buttonwood is often associated with the mangrove community. It is usually found growing with the white mangrove, upland of the red and black mangroves.

photo of the buttonwood tree
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A close-up of the white mangrove foliage growing along the boardwalk of Blowing Rocks Preserve. Leaves of the white mangrove are a dull, light-green color.

White mangroves typically grow upland from the red and black mangroves. Look for these mangroves thick, oval leaves to aid in identification.

photo of the white mangrove
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A black mangrove is easily identified by its pencil-like roots (called pneumatophores) that grow up through the soil.
photo of the black mangrove
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A young red mangrove and its arching prop roots seen in the exposed tidal flats along Indian River Lagoon. Red mangroves typically grow along the water's edge. They grow arching and branching prop roots from trunks and drop roots from branches to anchor into muddy bottoms. Some scientists believe that the exposed roots allow the trees to take in oxygen.

Red mangroves are commonly referred to as "walking trees" because their prop roots make the mangrove look as though it is walking or standing on the water's surface.

photo of a red mangrove
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photo of the lagoon behind the boardwalk
Looking north at the exposed tidal flats of the Indian River Lagoon. Sometimes, sea turtles or manatees are seen in the lagoon.
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photo of a great white southern butterfly
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(Right) A great southern white butterfly visiting spanish needles, a wildflower that grows in the Blowing Rocks Preserve butterfly garden. Great southern white butterflies are commonly found near the coasts, year-round in South Florida. The adult butterfly has a wingspan of 1.75 - 2.25 inches. Spanish needles is a favorite nectar plant.

Spanish needles is a common, weedy wildflower. It generally blooms in all but the winter months and flower heads normally have 5 white petals. Spanish needles is commonly found along roadsides and in disturbed soils throughout Florida.

photo of sea grapes and mangroves
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A short distance upland of the tidal flats of the Indian River Lagoon and just south of the education center at Blowing Rocks Preserve, sea grapes (at left) and a mangrove (at right) stand tall.

Sea grapes are native to Florida and can grow as a tree or shrub. Their round, evergreen leaves are leathery and about 8-inches in diameter. White mangroves have dull, light-green colored leaves that are oval in shape. They typically grow upland from other mangroves.

photo of wild coffee
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(Left) The shiny leaves of wild coffee are easily seen in the understory just south of the education center at Blowing Rocks Preserve. The evergreen leaves of this native shrub are noticeably veined. Wild coffee can grow to heights of 5 feet. It is commonly used in butterfly gardens as a nectar source. In the late summer and fall, it produces red berries that attract wildlife. Early Indians brewed the ground seeds for a drink.

Wild coffee is a hardy plant that is shade, sun, drought and salt tolerant. It is commonly found in hammocks of South Florida.

Related SOFIA Information

Below we have listed science projects and publications for studies that are being conducted, or have been conducted, in the area of Blowing Rocks Preserve. Follow these links to read about each project and to see project-related publications and data.

Science Projects:

Related Publications:



U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Center for Coastal Geology
This page is: http://sofia.usgs.gov /virtual_tour/blowingrocks/indexbwalk.html
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Heather Henkel - Webmaster (hhenkel@usgs.gov)
Last updated: January 15, 2013 @ 12:44 PM (HSH)