Once considered the largest wading bird rookery in South Florida in the 1800s, this island became a destination in the 1900s for wealthy Northerners to recuperate from their ailments at Dr. Munyon's Hotel Hygeia where they would drink his "Paw-Paw Elixir" to heal their aches and pains. In the 1930s and 1960s, the island was impacted when large amounts of soil were placed on it as the Intracoastal Waterway channel was dug out. In the 1990s, ERM removed the soil, created tidal channels and ponds to increase water flushing, and restored 20 acres of mangrove trees and salt marsh grasses, 23 acres of maritime hammock forest, and 9 acres of underwater seagrass beds.
The island is part of the John D. MacArthur Beach State Park managed by the Florida Park Service. The best way to visit this historical island once called "Nuctsachoo" or Pelican Island by the Seminole Indians is by kayak which you can rent at the gift shop.
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