"Although located in an urban area, the Banana River Aquatic Preserve offers many opportunities to view and experience the estuarine resources of the Indian River Lagoon system. Paddling the mangrove-lined backwaters of the Thousand Islands in Cocoa Beach or walking the trails along the marsh at Ulumay Wildlife Sanctuary adjacent to Sykes Creek are just a few of the opportunities available to visit this natural treasure."
- Bob Day, Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program
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.
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 aquatic preserve is accessible from the east by U.S. Highway A1A and from the west by State Road 3. Numerous parks and boat ramps provide direct public access to the aquatic preserve.
The northern Banana River has been the most important spring habitat (300-500 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 Emily Dark at 772-429-2995.
Volunteering at the Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserves
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 alike.
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.
September 1, 2021 - 11:37am
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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.