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Listed Species of Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves Quick Links

Listed species are those which are listed by organizations such as Florida Natural Areas Inventory, US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), National Marine Fisheries Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation commission (FWC) and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as endangered, threatened or species of special concern. Listed species include any species that are determined to be in danger of extinction or likely to become extinct within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range based upon the best scientific and commercial data available. Florida has more threatened and endangered native species than any state, except California and Hawaii. Rapid human population growth in Florida stresses species that are dependent on coastal habitats. Listed species can become threatened due to habitat destruction, over-utilization, disease or natural or human-made factors.

The federally and state listed endangered Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) occupies BBAP, its river and creek tributaries, and its engineered canals that flow to the bay. Manatees dwell in shallow bay waters and feed on a variety of vegetation in the bay, from low-lying mangrove branches to lush seagrass beds of the shallows. They rely on sheltered coves for feeding, resting, and calving and require warm-water refuge during winter months. Manatees travel into warm water canals, and are often trapped or crushed by canal locks. Manatees historically used a travel corridor between Dumfoundling Bay and northern Biscayne Bay near Baker's Haulover Inlet. Today, it accommodates the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway where vessels are allowed to travel at high rates of speed. Increased boat traffic, marine pollution, and expanding development around BBAP are one of the greatest threats to endangered manatees.

Manatee eating mangrove leaves

A manatee feeding on black mangrove leaves

The American crocodile Crocodylus acutusis listed as endangered by the FWC and threatened by the USFWS, mostly due to the limited availability of its range. It inhabits coastal estuarine marshes, mangrove swamps, and creeks along edges of the mainland and islands usually associated with mangroves. The American crocodile prefers to nest on beaches, stream banks, and levees. Breeding occurs in the southern section of BBAP. The crocodile's small population size leaves it vulnerable to catastrophes such as hurricanes and disease. Some crocodiles are reported killed by automobiles on US Route 1 and Card Sound road.

Another endangered species that is commonly found in the southern section of BBAP is the wood stork (Mycteria americana). These large birds nest colonially in a variety of coastal wetlands including mangrove shorelines. Wood storks forage mainly in shallow water in marshes, swamps, lagoons, ponds, and tidal creeks, where they are attracted to falling water levels that concentrate fish and some other food sources. Numerous other wading and shore birds, such as the roseate spoonbill (Platalea ajaia), the tricolored heron (Egretta tricolor), and the reddish egret (E. rufescens) are listed as Species of Special Concern due to the critical habitat decline of salt marshes, hydrological changes due to draining and channeling, and a decline in water quality. The first and only federally and state listed seagrass is Johnson's seagrass (Halophila johnsonii), which was listed as threatened in 1998. Johnson's seagrass can be found in tidal deltas inside inlets, sandy shoals, and mouths of canals; at water depths from shallow intertidal to 9 feet deep. It only occurs along 120 miles of southeast Florida's coastline, from Sebastian Inlet in Brevard County to the northern section of BBAP. Although federal and state laws aim to protect seagrass beds, there is continual serious loss of these habitats. Because of small size and lack of sexual reproduction, Johnson's seagrass is especially vulnerable to disturbance.

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Last updated: June 27, 2014

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