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What’s the Florida connection to box office champ ‘Kong: Skull Island’?

Kong: Skull Island,” which just raked in $61 million as the weekend box office champ, is the latest movie in which characters would rather be in South Florida, which is always preferable to a fog-shrouded jungle ruled by a big, unpredictable ape.


But who knew the movie would also provide a teaching moment in Florida geography? Isn’t that why we go to the movies?

The film is set in 1973 as American troops are getting ready to withdraw from Vietnam. But one platoon is sent on a mysterious mission to Skull Island instead, which irritates one soldier who says the only island he wants to visit is Key West.

He’s corrected by a fellow grunt:

“Key West isn’t an island. It’s a key.” (Imagine the millions paid for that snappy repartee.)

Not that we look to Hollywood movies for factual accuracy. but is the dogface correct? Is a key not an island? What’s the difference?

Depending how you want to view it, it seems that a key is an island and isn’t an island.


An island is a land mass surrounded on all sides by water. In that regard, Key West is an island. But islands, such as Australia, Japan and Hawaii, are usually defined as land masses formed from volcanoes or a jutting continental plate.

A key, or a cay, as it is sometimes spelled, is a sandy mass that forms on top of a coral reef. According to Wikipedia, sand and sediment is blown onto an exposed reef and builds up over years, forming the key. Trivia: The sediment often comes from debris of plants and animal skeletons. So, basically, the Florida Keys are one big graveyard.

In the end, knowing the technical differences between a key and an island is little help when you’re stuck on any kind of land mass dominated by giant apes and killer birds. Spoiler alert, as if you couldn’t guess it already: This soldier is never gonna see Key West.

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