|Gasparilla Sound - Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve
"As the only deep water harbor between Tampa and Key West, greater Charlotte Harbor
is blessed with a rich abundance and diversity of marine life and requires our
constant and continued efforts to ensure the future health of its waters."
Anna Bowditch, Honorary Member
Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program Advisory Committee
After Hurricane Charley, staff worked in close cooperation with public and
private agencies to survey the waterways and support the year-long debris
removal efforts. Water quality and seagrasses improved rapidly after the storm.
Annual seagrass monitoring at 20 different sites in the harbor examines types,
density, distribution and other parameters. Results indicate that seagrasses
vary significantly throughout the region but generally appear healthy and
Monthly water quality monitoring by more than 20 citizen volunteers indicates that water clarity is good with high natural color from mangrove tannins but there are spikes in turbidity, bacteria and nutrients associated with rainwater runoff.
Water Quality Monitoring
Long term health of the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves depends on maintaining good water
quality to support diverse submerged habitats. In 2001, the Coastal Charlotte Harbor Monitoring
Network was established through a partnership of agencies and staff. Each month, 13 hydrologic
regions are sampled for 19 key parameters. The data is examined to determine changes over time,
relationships between parameters and effects on seagrass habitats. Water quality conditions in
Gasparilla Sound and Charlotte Harbor show good to average conditions, with very high nutrient
and color levels associated with summer rain events. A summary of the findings was presented at
the 2005 Charlotte Harbor Watershed Summit and will be published in the journal,
Quick Facts about Gasparilla Sound - Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve
Charlotte and Lee counties
80,000 acres of sovereign submerged lands
Aquatic Preserve Manager
12301 Burnt Store Road
Punta Gorda, FL 33955
Download a printable version of this page.
Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves Management Plan (pdf -
Returning home from a day of sailing in Charlotte Harbor
This is the second largest estuary in Florida and the largest, deepest and most
diverse of the five Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves.
Fresh water from the Peace and Myakka Rivers mixes with salt water coming
through Boca Grande Pass from the Gulf of Mexico.
Shallow, near-shore shoals sustain an abundance of seagrasses, oysters and
mudflats. This variety of habitats support more than 100 invertebrate species, 200
fish species and 150 shore and wading birds species.
Fishing is popular among seagrass shallows, mangrove fringes and artificial
reefs. Major tarpon and goliath grouper populations are found near Boca Grande
The harbor supports recreational boating along with commercial clam aquaculture
October 25, 2016
3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 235
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
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