Banana River Aquatic Preserve is located in north central Brevard County, separating Merritt Island on the west and the beach barrier island on the east. The surface water area of the aquatic preserve is approximately 30,000 acres. The aquatic preserve begins at State Road 528 (Bennett Causeway), extends almost to the southern tip of Merritt Island, and includes Newfound Harbor and Sykes Creek as far north as Hall Road. There is no visitor center in the area or official trails managed by Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserves.
The incorporated cities bordering the aquatic preserve are Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, Satellite Beach and Indian Harbor Beach, north to south respectively. In addition, Patrick Air Force Base lies along the Banana River Lagoon between Cocoa Beach and Satellite Beach.
The northern Banana River has been the most important spring habitat (300 to 500 individuals/survey day) for the east coast population of manatees, and large numbers of manatees use the Banana River almost year-round. In addition, the Banana River supports the largest pelican rookery on the Atlantic Coast, a significant population of alligators and diamondback terrapin turtles.
The Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserves are a proud partner of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics and were selected as a 2017 and 2018 Leave No Trace Hot Spot. To learn more about Leave No Trace in the Indian River Lagoon contact Matthew Anderson, 772-429-2995.
The Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserves provide a variety of volunteer opportunities from projects in ecosystem science, restoration and spoil island activities. Volunteers help with activities such as wildlife monitoring, annual seagrass monitoring or microplastic sampling. The Shoreline Restoration Project enables volunteers to get involved in shoreline stabilization through native plantings. On spoil islands, volunteers take a hand in improving visitor access through activities such as invasive plant removal or installing picnic tables, fire rings or human waste bag dispensers. For more information, please contact our office at IRLAP@FloridaDEP.gov or call 772-429-2995.
For other opportunities to help preserve the Indian River Lagoon and surrounding aquatic preserves, consider joining the Friends of the Spoil Islands.
There are no state parks adjacent to Banana River Aquatic Preserve or nearby, but Ulumay Wildlife Sanctuary, operated by Brevard County, offers excellent bird-watching opportunities.
Boat ramps at Kiwanis Island Park, Kelly Park, Cocoa Beach Recreational Complex, Banana River Park and Port End Park give access to the lagoon to boaters and kayakers.
The Florida Department of State's Division of Historical Resources Master Site File indicates there are scores of historical sites adjacent to the Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserves (IRLAP) system. Archaeological sites date from 10,000 B.C. to 1700 A.D. and include Spanish Fleet Survivors and Salvors Camp, Jungle Trail and Mount Elizabeth. Historical sites include architectural, military, social, transportation, commerce and conservation sites. Many of the aboriginal shell mounds along the IRLAP system were destroyed for roadfill for U.S. highways 1 and A1A, and other highways and train beds.
October 10, 2023 - 3:18pm
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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.