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AP Florida

Egmont Key battered by erosion

WFLA
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 07:56 PM

Egmont Key is rich in history and wildlife, and its lighthouse guides ships Into Tampa Bay. But Tropical Storm Debby, like storms past, has taken a bite out of Egmont.

Video taken from the air during the storm shows the ranger station and captain's village under water from the surge, and relentless waves tore at the trees.

Debby removed so much of the remaining beach here, the regulars have taken notice.

"We used to come out here and the sand would be at least another 50 feet out," said visitor Carlos Cainas. "You can see the sandbar that eroded right there, and the sand used to be a lot wider."

But erosion is nothing new to Egmont. Forty years ago, a Spanish-American War cannon barrack was still on dry land. Today it resembles rocks sticking out of the sea.

Aaron Kalwa, a local boat captain sees no stop to it.

"It's going to deteriorate quite quickly until all the gun batteries are out into the water. You can see on the other side where all the salt water intrusion is killing the palm trees."

The once symmetrical island now looks more like a teardrop.

Despite re-nourishment efforts, and the installation of breach groins, like this to slow erosion, with every tropical system, a huge chunk of sand is washed away. If this continues, there could be a day where Egmont Key resembles neighboring Passage Key, which is under water.

Eroded away by the hurricane of 1921, Passage once even housed a pig farm. Today, it serves as shallow anchor.

A fate like Passage Key would be the nightmare for Egmont, and only time will tell how long this tiny island has to survive.

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