"The Indian River Lagoon, America's most diverse and beautiful estuary, is vital to our economy and environment, yet its future is uncertain. Preserving and protecting the lagoon is beneficial to ours and future generations." - Richard Baker, president of Pelican Island Audubon Society
Located in Brevard and Indian River counties, Indian River-Malabar to Vero Beach Aquatic Preserve encompasses 28 miles, totaling 29,000 acres of the lagoon. The aquatic preserve begins just north of Turkey Creek at Castaway Point in Palm Bay, extends south to northern Vero Beach corporate limit and includes waters of Turkey Creek and St. Sebastian River, which are the main tributaries of the aquatic preserve. The tidal influence of the Sebastian Inlet and wind-driven currents provide flushing of the aquatic preserve and regulate its salinity. Palm Bay, Malabar, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Orchid and Indian River Shores are incorporated cities that lie along the aquatic preserve boundary. Unincorporated cities include Floridana Beach, Melbourne Shores, Grant, Micco, Wabasso, Roseland and Gifford. The aquatic preserve is accessible from the east by U.S. Highway A1A and from the west by U.S. Highway 1. Numerous parks and boat ramps provide direct public access to the aquatic preserve.
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 & 2018 Leave No Trace Hot Spot. To learn more about Leave No Trace in the Indian River Lagoon, contact Emily Dark at Emily.Dark@dep.state.fl.us or 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@dep.state.fl.us 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.
The aquatic preserve is a popular destination for boating, fishing, kayaking and appreciating nature. Sebastian Inlet State Park, which borders the aquatic preserve, has boat launches and a non-motorized boat launch for kayaks, canoes and sailboats. It's also a popular destination for swimming and sunbathing. Manatees can be seen congregating in St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park from November to March in the C54 Canal.
Find out more about recreation opportunities here:
The spoil islands of the aquatic preserve are popular destinations for picnicking and camping.
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 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 Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserves System were destroyed for roadfill for U.S. highways 1 and A1A, and other highways and train beds.
December 29, 2020 - 10:48am
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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.