There are about 20 federally endangered species in the Keys, and many of them exist nowhere else on Earth. “The dang eye of the hurricane tore right through the prime habitat for many of our most at-risk species,” Dan Clark, manager of a complex of four national wildlife refuges in the Florida Keys said.
One animal of particular concern was the Key deer, a charismatic, small subspecies of the white-tailed deer. A survey conducted after Hurricane Irma by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Texas A&M University revealed that about 14 to 22 percent of the Key deer population, which is estimated to be about 1,000 deer, was killed by the storm. They live only in the Florida Keys.
One of the most critical resources for Keys species is freshwater, and Danielle Ogurcak, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Water and Environment said “At a certain level of sea level rise there won’t be any freshwater there.”
Read the full article to learn more about how hurricanes and rising sea level is affecting the Keys wildlife.