"The Apalachicola River, floodplain and bay comprise one of the most biodiverse and productive riverine and estuarine systems in the northern hemisphere. The historic natural function and cultural heritage of the surrounding communities remain intact much of the way it has been for generations of commercial fishermen on one of Florida's last working waterfronts. This ecosystem and its people are truly an American treasure."
— Dan Tonsmeire, Apalachicola Riverkeeper
Apalachicola Bay is one of the most productive estuarine systems in the northern hemisphere as a result of the overall good water quality.
Apalachicola Bay is an exceptionally important nursery area for the Gulf of Mexico.
More than 95% of all species harvested commercially and 85% of all species harvested recreationally in the open Gulf have to spend a portion of their life in estuarine waters. Blue crabs, for example, migrate as much as 300 miles to spawn in Apalachicola Bay.
Apalachicola Bay is a major forage area for such offshore fish species as gag grouper and gray snapper.
The area is a major forage area for migratory birds, in particular for trans-gulf migrants in the spring.
The Apalachicola Bay Aquatic Preserve lies along the northeast coast of the Gulf of Mexico in Franklin County. The preserve, designated in 1969, covers an area of 80,000 acres.
The Apalachicola estuary covers an area of about 210 square miles, with about 60% of this area included within the aquatic preserve's boundaries.
The Apalachicola Bay Aquatic Preserve is contained within the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve. The aquatic preserve ensures an essentially natural condition for future generations. The public has access to recreational opportunities' in the aquatic preserve, while assuring the continued propagation of fish and wildlife resources.
Apalachicola Bay Aquatic Preserve has 50 archaeological sites, mostly prehistoric shell middens along the shoreline, but also including a turpentine camp and a historic shipwreck.
Wildlife Habitat Description:
The dominant natural communities in Apalachicola Bay are seagrass beds, mollusk reef and unconsolidated substrate. Salt marsh borders much of the aquatic preserve as a transition zone between aquatic and terrestrial habitats.
Outstanding Florida Waters
February 14, 2023 - 4:39pm
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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.