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Aquatic Preserve Program

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STORM UPDATES:

Hurricane Ian 

Effective Sept. 27, 2022: To help ensure the safety of visitors and staff, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is monitoring Hurricane Ian. The following aquatic preserves and national estuarine research reserves are currently closed due to anticipated inclement weather. Please visit specific aquatic preserve webpages for details and the latest information.


Alligator Harbor Aquatic Preserve.

Apalachicola Bay Aquatic Preserve.

Banana River Aquatic Preserves.

Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserves.

Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve. 

Boca Ciega Aquatic Preserve. 

Cape Haze Aquatic Preserve.

Cape Romano-Ten Thousand Islands.

Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve.

Coupon Bight Aquatic Preserve.

Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve.

Fort Clinch Aquatic Preserves.

Gasparilla Sound-Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve.

Guana River Marsh Aquatic Preserves.

Indian River- Malabar to Vero Beach Aquatic Preserves.

Indian River- Vero Beach to Ft. Pierce Aquatic Preserves.

Jenson Beach to Jupiter Inlet Aquatic Preserves.

Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve.

Lignumvitae Key Aquatic Preserve.

Loxahatchee River- Lake Worth Creek Aquatic Preserves.

Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve.

Mosquito Lagoon Aquatic Preserves.

Nassau River-St. Johns River Marshes Aquatic Preserves.

Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve.

North Fork St. Lucie Inlet Aquatic Preserves.

Pellicer Creek Aquatic Preserves.

Pine Island Sound Aquatic Preserve.

Pinellas County Aquatic Preserves.

Ocklawaha River Aquatic Preserves.

Rainbow Springs Aquatic Preserves. 

Rookery Bay Aquatic Preserves.

St. Andrews Aquatic Preserve.

St. Joseph Bay Aquatic Preserve.

St. Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserves.

Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve.

Tomoka Marsh Aquatic Preserves.

Wekiva River Aquatic Preserves.


Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Information can be found at FloridaDEP.gov/RCP/NERR-Rookery-Bay


Tour Our Aquatic Preserves

Our interactive story map takes you to our 42 aquatic treasures across the state, describing highlights of each aquatic preserve and providing links to each of their webpages 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

About our Aquatic Preserves

Much of Florida's distinctive character lies in the beauty of its 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 so "their aesthetic, biological and scientific values may endure for the enjoyment of future generations."


DEP RCP Aquatic Preserve map


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 the cultural and historical value of the sites.

The natural heritage of aquatic preserves is entrusted to us — to explore, experience and protect  — for future generations.

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