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Aquatic Preserve Program

Safety Updates

Effective Monday, May 4, DEP will implement phase one to reopen Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection managed lands. As these areas reopen, DEP will take measures to ensure the protection of staff and the public. During this early phase of reopening, visitors should expect limited hours, capacity and amenities.

RCP has reopened remote access to most islands and submerged lands, including remote access trails, and beaches and boat ramps at Florida's three national estuarine research reserves. However, openings will continue to be in line with local ordinances. Please refer to your local government web pages to identify any local restrictions. 

Tour Our Aquatic Preserves

Our interactive story map takes you to our 41 aquatic treasures across the state, describing highlights of each aquatic preserve, along with links to each of their web pages on the DEP website. 

If you're more into the technical side, visit our MapDirect of our aquatic preserves. Scale back and you can see where each AP in the state is located.  


Aquatic Preserve Map

Explore Our Aquatic Preserves - Earn Swag

We challenge you to visit as many sites as possible with our Explore Aquatic Florida Passport! If you send us your information, you could earn cool swag. Learn more.

About our Aquatic Preserves

Much of Florida's distinctive character lies in the beauty of its 8,400 miles of coastline. The best of our coastal landscapes, as well as several inland waters, have been set aside for protection as aquatic preserves. Florida's natural beauty always has been a major attraction for both tourists and residents. Ironically, the very features that draw people to Florida are potentially endangered by the increased population pressures. Aquatic preserves protect Florida's living waters to ensure they will always be home for bird rookeries and fish nurseries, freshwater springs and salt marshes, and seagrass meadows and mangrove forests.

These aquatic preserves  — dotted up and down Florida's coastline  — offer a window into the state's natural and cultural heritage. In 1975, with growing appreciation for their environmental diversity and alluring beauty, Florida enacted the Aquatic Preserve Act. This ensures the continuation of aquatic preserves' natural conditions — "their aesthetic, biological and scientific values may endure for the enjoyment of future generations."

Wildlife Habitat

These pristine waters act as critical nurseries for fish and other aquatic life that are an integral part of the Florida way of life. Bottlenose dolphins break the water's surface and manatees feed on seagrasses. Wading and shore birds — including pelicans, ospreys and roseate spoonbills — thrive in the shallow waters.

Recreation

About two-thirds of Floridians live in counties that border an aquatic preserve. Aquatic preserves are vital to Florida's quality of life. Residents and visitors enjoy swimming, fishing, boating and paddling through the preserves, often unaware the waters are being protected and preserved.

Cultural Heritage

Numerous archaeological sites found along and within the aquatic preserves attest to early human habitation. Like many people today, early explorers found them attractive places to live. Shell mounds, which are heaps of the discarded remains from early meals, bear the evidence of early human communities and add to their cultural and historical value.

Aquatic preserves' natural heritage is entrusted to us — to explore, experience and protect  — for future generations.

Events & Public Notices

None available at this time.

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