Welcome to Coupon Bight Aquatic Preserve, a 5,400-acre protected area located south of Big Pine Key in the lower Florida Keys. The aquatic preserve spans a unique geological transition zone between the upper and lower Florida Keys. It boasts a diversity of underwater habitats that support an amazing array of life.
Coupon Bight Aquatic Preserve is the southernmost aquatic preserve. It is located in the lower half of the Florida Keys archipelago and lies within the boundaries of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Established in 1990, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary affords a higher level of protection through both state and federal management. Facing increasing threats to each of the habitats that comprise the subtropical ecosystem of the Florida Keys, this state-federal partnership provides protection to 2,900 square nautical miles surrounding the entire archipelago of the Florida Keys. Coupon Bight Aquatic Preserve is also adjacent to the National Key Deer Refuge, which was established in 1957 and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"The Coupon Bight Aquatic Preserve exemplifies valuable and diverse collections of habitat in Monroe County. Unique natural areas of seagrass beds containing hard bottom with diverse shallow patch reefs that provide life support for a myriad of bio-diverse resources."
George Neugent, Monroe County Commissioner
Coupon Bight Aquatic Preserve encompasses 5,400 acres of seagrass meadows, hard bottom communities, mangrove wetlands and coral patch reefs.
Along the southern boundary of Coupon Bight Aquatic Preserve is a near-shore patch reef community, home to an array of sponges, soft corals, hard corals and algae.
Rare wading birds can often be observed foraging in the shallow waters of the tropical lagoon and among the mangroves.
The endangered Key deer is a frequent visitor to the mangroves at the Coupon Bight Aquatic Preserve. The mangrove fringe offers excellent cover for foraging.
Activities within the aquatic preserve include boating, snorkeling, diving, commercial fishing, marine life collecting, charter sport fishing and recreational fishing for finfish and lobster.
Above underwater photos by Richard Collins inside Coupon Bight Aquatic Preserve.
Topside photo of Coupon Bight Aquatic Preserve at low tide.
Coupon Bight Aquatic Preserve is located in the lower half of the Florida Keys archipelago. Lying south of the main land mass of Big Pine Key, the aquatic preserve is bounded on the north and east by the extension of that land area and on the south by the 12-foot depth contour in the Atlantic Ocean.
The western boundary runs from the 12-foot Atlantic contour along the 6-foot depth contour of Newfound Harbor Channel in a northeasterly direction to the southwestern tip of Big Pine Key.
The privately owned Newfound Harbor Keys lie between the interior waters of the Bight and the Atlantic portions of the aquatic preserve. Only state-owned submerged lands are included within the boundary.
There are no public boat ramps directly on the aquatic preserve but there are several nearby including two approximately 1-mile away. Several of the islands within the aquatic preserve contain residential lots, specifically on Cooks Island, Long Beach and Hopkins Island. Access to some of these residences is provided by Long Beach Road. Additionally, Big Munson Island is owned and managed by the Boy Scouts of America. Much of the adjacent uplands are part of National Key Deer Refuge.
There are no known archaeological sites within Coupon Bight Aquatic Preserve.
October 31, 2023 - 5:13pm
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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.