"Cape Haze is a Florida place where the sense of wilderness and encounters with the
genuinely wild persist-- where there remains the chance to experience our state's
original bounty and heritage of nature. That's what aquatic preserves are all about."
Ernest D. Estevez, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Coastal Ecology, Mote Marine Laboratory
Monthly water quality monitoring since 1996 within Cape Haze Aquatic Preserve. Data program-wide indicates that water quality
is generally good, but increases in turbidity, bacteria and nutrients are associated with rain events and stormwater runoff.
There are no developments immediately adjacent to Cape Haze Aquatic Preserve because of the establishment of the Charlotte Harbor
Preserve State Park.
Island Bay National Wildlife Refuge is located in Cape Haze Aquatic Preserve, providing an additional level of protection to certain
mangrove islands in this pristine area.
White Pelican Island, located in Cape Haze Aquatic Preserve, supports a nesting colony of a variety of wading and diving birds. CHAP
staff have been documenting bird nesting effort by species on this island since 2009. Nesting birds observed include the great blue
heron, little blue heron, snowy egret, great egret, reddish egret, yellow-crowned night heron, black-crowned night heron, and
Seagrass is a submerged habitat that serves as an indicator of
estuary health. Seagrass health depends on good water clarity and
quality. Changes in water quality, hydrology and salinity directly
affect seagrass distribution, abundance and diversity. To
characterize seagrass conditions, annual monitoring was established
in 1998 at 50 sites throughout the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic
Preserves, including four sites in Cape Haze. Each fall, data is
collected from the shoreline to the deep edge of seagrass beds to
determine species type, abundance, shoot density, blade lengths,
maximum depth and sediment type. With help from research partners
and the use of aerial photography, the seagrass data is examined for
changes over time and by aquatic preserve. The results are presented
regularly at scientific conferences and has been published in
Florida Scientist. Overall, seagrasses appear to be relatively
healthy and stable throughout the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic
Preserves, although there had been estuary specific declines in some
years that were associated with natural events like hurricanes, and
stronger than average rainy seasons. Healthy, dense seagrass beds in
Cape Haze Aquatic Preserve support fisheries.