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Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves What's New


Miami-Dade and Monroe counties


Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve
64,607 acres

Biscayne Bay - Cape Florida to Monroe County Line Aquatic Preserve
4,164 acres


Pamela Sweeney
Aquatic Preserve Manager
1277 NE 79th Street Causeway
Miami, FL 33138
(305) 795-3486

Seahorse hiding in algae

This dwarf seahorse blends into his environment, along a bed of macroalgae, and holding onto a blade of manatee grass. It is being considered for inclusion on the Endangered Species list.

Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve from Freebee on Vimeo

Biscayne Bay is home to two state aquatic preserves. The first, Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve was established in 1974 and runs the length of Biscayne Bay, from the headwaters of the Oleta River down to Card Sound near Key Largo and comprises approximately 63,000 submerged acres. The second aquatic preserve, named the Biscayne Bay-Cape Florida to Monroe County Line, was established in 1975. Much of the submerged lands and islands originally included within the boundaries are now within either Biscayne National Park or within the larger Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve. The two preserves are collectively known as the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve (BBAP).

Biscayne Bay is a unique waterbody along the southeast Atlantic shoreline of the United States because it was not formed by the drowning of a river. Instead, Biscayne Bay formed between 5,000 and 2,400 years ago as sea level rose to fill the depression between these ridges. Biscayne Bay provides habitat for a wide variety of juvenile and adult marine species as well as several of Florida's imperiled species, including the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris), the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), and Johnson's seagrass (Halophila johnsonii). Johnson's seagrass was the first and only marine plant to be listed as threatened and resides in the northern section of BBAP.

BBAP can be thought of as three distinctive sections: Northern, Central, and Southern. Northern Biscayne Bay begins where the Oleta River empties into Biscayne Bay and ends and at the Rickenbacker Causeway, south of where the Miami River empties into the bay. South of the Rickenbacker Causeway is regarded as Central Biscayne Bay, where the bay experiences open flushing with the ocean at its eastern most edge and is not separated by any causeways or bridges. The central section extends south from the Rickenbacker Causeway to where BBAP meets the northern boundary of Biscayne National Park and extends 3 nautical miles east of the southern tip of Key Biscayne. The central section of the bay also includes a 4,000-acre Biscayne Bay-Cape Florida to Monroe County Line Aquatic Preserve. The Southern section of BBAP begins at the southern boundary of Biscayne National Park at Cutter Bank, just south of the Arsenicker Keys and Broad Creek, and terminates where Little Card Sound connects to Barnes Sound under the Card Sound Road Bridge.

The State of Florida has one of the longest coastlines in the US, with over 75 percent of residents living in coastal communities. Biscayne Bay extends the length of Miami-Dade County (MDC), which continues to be Florida's most populous county with 2,472,344 residents and 13.2 percent of Florida's population. Future Projections for MDC population data predicts MDC's population to increase to 2,476,289 people in 2010 and to 2,558,134 by 2015. Monroe County is adjacent to Card Sound and Southern Biscayne Bay and home to an estimated 77,995 residents in 2009, however visitors from other areas make use of the county, known as a premier fishing and scuba diving destination.

Map of Biscayne Bay

Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves Map

Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves - 40 years of protection

In October, Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves will celebrate its 40th anniversary, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Florida Coastal Office invites you to join in on the festivities.

The first of two main events is "Soiree by the Bay" on Oct. 5 at the Deering Estate at Cutler, featuring the beauty and history of the aquatic preserves in pictures, art, video and storytelling.

The month-long recognition will conclude on Oct. 25 with "Paddle Out! Biscayne Bay," an island excursion in the northern part of the aquatic preserves where Miami eco-artist Xavier Cortada will lead a community art project with the participants. Throughout the month, the community will be asked to pledge an eco-action - a personal commitment to help Biscayne Bay not just survive, but thrive, for the next 40 years.

Additional information about the festivities is available through a recent press release and more will be posted as the date draws nearer.

Seahorse/Seagrass by Xavier Cortada

Beginning December 3rd, the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves will showcase some of its unique sites in guided tours sponsored by the Friends of Biscayne Bay. These tours are by kayak, snorkel or boat. The tours will visit two bird sanctuaries (Chicken Key and Bird Key), the Cape FL Lighthouse, Vizcaya, and Di Lido ruins. Another unique program offered will be seine-sational where families will get their feet wet learning to identify marine life caught in a seine net.

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Last updated: October 09, 2014

  3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 235 Tallahassee, Florida 32399 850-245-2094 (phone) / 850-245-2110 (fax)
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