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Blowing Rocks Preserve

| Dune Path | On the Boardwalk |

Map showing location of Blowing Rocks Preserve
Map showing location of Blowing Rocks Preserve.
Blowing Rocks Preserve is located on Florida's East Coast, north of West Palm Beach, on the southern end of Jupiter Island. The preserve is managed by The Nature Conservancy, a private conservation organization.

Blowing Rocks Preserve's 73 acres contain beach, estuary (a place where freshwater and salt water meet), dunes and tropical hammock. An outcropping of the Anastasia limestone formation can be seen along the Atlantic Ocean shoreline at low tide. This exposed rock consists of coquina shells, other seashells and sand. If you visit the preserve at high tide and the seas are rough, you may see the waves rush through erosion holes in the limestone and shoot high into the air.

On the western side of Blowing Rocks Preserve there is an education center, a plant nursery, a butterfly garden and a boardwalk along the edge of the Indian River Lagoon. Across the street, on the preserve's eastern side, a path takes you along the beach dune and to the beach lined with the Anastasia outcropping.

Walk along the dune path with us and see the dune plants and beautiful beach of the preserve.

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

Walk with us along the dune path...
photo of a gumbo limbo
[larger image]
Along the Blowing Rock Preserve dune path, a gumbo limbo tree stands out from the sea grape and palm that also populate the dune. The red-brown, peeling bark of the gumbo limbo tree makes for easy identification. The gumbo limbo tree has been nicknamed the tourist tree because its peeling bark resembles the skin of a visitor who has been out in the sun too long.

(Right) Close-up of a gumbo limbo tree.

photo of a close-up shot of the gumbo limbo
[larger image]
The gumbo limbo is a tropical tree that is native to Florida. It is commonly found in coastal central Florida, South Florida and the Keys.

Sabal Palm
A sabal palm (Sabal palmetto) along the dune path at Blowing Rocks Preserve. The sabal palm is Florida's state tree and is Florida's most abundant native palm. It can grow to heights of 60 feet or more and has large, fan-shaped leaves. This unbranched palm is commonly found throughout Florida.

Nature Conservancy staff and volunteers removed invasive, non-native plants from the preserve's beach dune and replaced them with native plants such as this sabal palm.

photo of a sabal palm
[larger image]

photo of walkway thru sea grapes photo of sea grapes upclose
Walk through the tunnel of sea grapes.
[larger image]
Close-up of sea grapes.
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You won't "sea" any grapes here!

Sea grapes form a tunnel over this section of the dune path at Blowing Rocks Preserve. Sea grapes are smooth-barked and can grow as a tree or shrub. Their round, evergreen leaves are leathery and about 8-inches in diameter. The flowers are small ivory blossoms, which develop into reddish fruits that are edible.

A native of Florida, the tropical sea grape does well in areas of high salt and poor soil. It is commonly found in coastal hammocks, dunes and beaches of South Florida and the Keys.


IPIX - On the Dunes of Blowing Rocks  
A climb up a few steps brought us from sea grape populated dunes to a breathtaking view of the aquamarine waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Once you've reached the top of the stairs, you'll see the forest of sea grapes behind you, and the Atlantic Ocean in front of you.

Navigate around this 360° view from atop the dune at Blowing Rocks Preserve.

  IPIX image of the dunes of Blowing Rocks
Note: You will need the free IPIX viewer to view this 360° image  

IPIX - At the Beach
 
Navigate this 360° view of the dunes, beach and Atlantic Ocean at Blowing Rocks Preserve. Look closely at the water's edge to see the Anastasia formation outcropping. This exposed rock consists of coquina shells, other sea shells and sand.

South Florida's beaches are primarily composed of quartz and calcium carbonate sand. Vegetation along the dunes stabilizes the mounds of sand that protect the coast against winds and pounding tides.

  IPIX image of the beach at Blowing Rocks
Note: You will need the free IPIX viewer to view this 360° image  

Panoramic of Blowing Rocks beach
panoramic photo of Blowing Rocks
Looking north at a panoramic view of the dunes, beach and Atlantic Ocean at Blowing Rocks Preserve. (Note: larger version is 80 K.)

Florida beaches are important nesting sites for sea turtles and shore birds. A loss of beach habitat to real estate development has caused a decline in the nesting shore bird and sea turtle populations.

Anastasia Limestone
photo of anastasia limestone
[larger image]
An outcropping of the Anastasia limestone formation seen along the shoreline at low tide. This exposed rock consists of coquina shells, other sea shells and sand. If you visit the Blowing Rocks Preserve at high tide and the seas are rough, you may see the waves rush through erosion holes in the limestone and shoot high into the air. photo of anastasia limestone (close-up)
[larger image]
Some marine animals attach to the rock and others use it for shelter. This rock formation serves as a protective barrier to the beach, but it can also increase beach erosion and intensify salt spray.

photo of dune grasses
[larger image]
End of the path! Follow us back through the sea grape tunnel, as we head across the road to the boardwalk.
(Left) Dune grasses and sea grapes stabilize the dunes at Blowing Rocks Preserve.



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:

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