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By TERRY TOMALIN, Times Outdoors Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 5, 2000
Like most Gulf Coast barrier islands, Shell Key has been shaped by hurricanes, waves and changing tides for the past 3,000 years. It is one of the few undeveloped barrier islands left in the Gulf of Mexico, and as a result, has one of the densest nesting shorebird populations in the United States.
For years, Shell Key has been a popular stopping point for picnickers, boaters and anglers. The state has managed the island, but those duties will soon be taken over by Pinellas County. Officials are working on a management plan that will strike the delicate balance between protecting this fragile ecosystem and accommodating the thousands of humans who want to visit its sandy beaches every year.
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