Editor’s Note: Dry Tortugas National Park is scheduled to reopen January 8, 2023 at 8 a.m.
Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida is closed to the public after an increase of migrants arriving by boat from Cuba. Law enforcement and medical personnel are evaluating, providing care, and coordinating transport for about 300 migrants who arrived at the park the last couple of days.
“The closure, which is expected to last several days, is necessary for the safety of visitors and staff because of the resources and space needed to attend to the migrants,” Dry Tortugas National Park told TravelAwaits.
The closure began at 8 a.m. on January 2. Concession-operated ferry and seaplane services are also temporarily suspended.
The Dry Tortugas archipelago is 70 miles west of Key West and is made up of seven mostly uninhabited islands. It’s only accessible by boat or seaplane. Dry Tortugas National Park, which encompasses the islands and their waters, has seen an increase in people arriving by boat from Cuba.
The Homeland Security Task Force – Southeast says it’s “aware of multiple migrant landings this weekend on Dry Tortugas. USCG Southeast and partner federal, state & local HSTF-SE components are coordinating efforts to recover those currently stranded on the remote, uninhabited islands.”
Park first responders are providing food, water, and medical attention until the Department of Homeland Security takes over. The U.S. Coast Guard Southeast provided extra law enforcement to help check on the health and well-being of the migrants.
“While the park is closed, vessels may seek safe harbor in the designated areas within the one nautical mile anchoring zone around Garden Key, including Bird Key Harbor. There will be no visitor services available while the closure is in effect and emergency services will be extremely limited,” Dry Tortugas National Park told TravelAwaits.
Migrants Arriving In Florida
Walter N. Slosar, chief patrol agent of the U.S. Border Patrol’s Miami Sector, has been tweeting since New Year’s Day about the increase in people arriving in the Florida Keys. He said more than 160 migrants arrived on January 1. On December 31, he said U.S. Border Patrol agents responded to five migrant landings across the Keys and encountered 88 Cuban migrants.
All closures will remain in place until further notice.
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