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Underwater view of a coral reef

Biscayne National Park is a U.S. National Park in southern Florida, south of Miami, that preserves Biscayne Bay and its offshore barrier reefs (pictured). Ninety-five percent of the park is water, accessible only by boat. It covers 172,971 acres (69,999 ha) and includes Elliott Key, the first of the true Florida Keys. The park protects four ecosystems (mangrove swamp, shallow waters, coral limestone keys and the Florida Reef), providing a nursery for larval and juvenile fish, molluscs and crustaceans, and nesting grounds for endangered sea turtles. Sixteen endangered species including Schaus' swallowtail butterflies, smalltooth sawfish, manatees, and green and hawksbill sea turtles may be observed in the park. The people of the Glades culture inhabited the region about 10,000 years ago before rising sea levels filled the bay. The Tequesta people occupied the area from about 4,000 BC to the 16th century, when the Spanish took possession of Florida. Following the Cuban Revolution, Elliott Key was used as a training ground for infiltrators into Castro's Cuba by the CIA and Cuban exile groups. (Full article...)

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Today's featured picture

Astrolabe

An Iranian astrolabe, handmade from brass by Jacopo Koushan in 2013. Astrolabes are elaborate inclinometers used by astronomers, navigators, and astrologers from classical antiquity, through the Islamic Golden Age and European Middle Ages, until the Renaissance. These could be used for a variety of purposes, including predicting the positions of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars; determining local time given local latitude; surveying; triangulation; calculating the qibla; and finding the times for salat.

Photograph: Masoud Safarniya

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