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Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves Wildlife Monitoring Programs Quick Links

Sea turtle monitoring is conducted by the Miami-Dade County Parks and Recreation Department. Prior to 1980, there was no documented sea turtle activity largely due to the lack of available beach nesting habitat. In 1979, the Parks and Recreation Department's Sea Turtle Conservation Program began a comprehensive beach renourishment project. After that time, sea turtle activity was more abundant and today. The program has documented over 6 thousand nests, which resulted in the release of over 500,000 hatchlings. County staff is permitted through the FWC to conduct their work. Staff walk the beaches of Key Biscayne that are not scoured by industrial machines during nesting season to remove seagrasses and other natural material, mark where nests are located, and monitor nest progress. The Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center on the ocean side of Key Biscayne will rescue hatchlings in the where there is heavy public access and will incubate the eggs and release them during moonlit walks available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Sea turtles that are reported as injured within Biscayne Bay and near shore waters are taken in by the Miami Seaquarium, undergo rehabilitation and are released. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, at the southern tip of Key Biscayne and bordered by BBAP, is the preferred location for sea turtle release.

Northern Biscayne Bay has historically been a part of the Christmas Bird Census - from the years 1982 through 2002. Local Tropical Audubon Society member Robert Kelley, who is thought to have bridged two generations of bird conservationists in south Florida, lead the Miami team who ventured into Biscayne Bay by boat to conduct the count. Specifically, volunteers traveled to Virginia Key and the Little River to document endangered species such as the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) and the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), threatened species such as piping plover (Charadrius melodus), and species of special concern such as brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis), black skimmer (Rynchops niger) and the tricolored heron (Egretta tricolor). This effort was brought to an end shortly before Kelley's passing and in the past few years, only birds seen on land were counted. BBAP staff hope to work with leadership from the Tropical Audubon Society, based out of Miami, to reinstate this annual count by motorized or non-motorized vessel.

Kayaker conducting bird survey

Staff have partnered with Tropical Audubon Society to conduct bird surveys in the Bill Sadowski Critical Wildlife Area. A special permit was obtained as this area has a no-entry year round designation.

NOAA's Southeast Fisheries Science Center conducts a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), monitoring program in Biscayne Bay, using photo-identification techniques as a method of identifying individual dolphins for population studies. Initiated in August 1990, a total of 180 individuals have been identified during 250 surveys. Of these, approximately 75 percent are considered to be full time residents of Biscayne Bay. The study area runs from Haulover Inlet, south to Card Sound Bridge encompassing an area of approximately 250 square miles. The behavioral studies component includes observing and monitor habitat use, movement patterns and other behaviors exhibited by Biscayne Bay bottlenose populations. Currently, a website is being developed to allow researchers to compare dolphin dorsal fin images from the photo-identification projects in adjoining study areas to determine the extent animal ranges.

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Last updated: June 27, 2014

  3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 235 Tallahassee, Florida 32399 850-245-2094
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