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Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve Project Spotlight

"Imagine Florida without its tourism-driven economy - without fishing, boating, wading and beachcombing. Thankfully you won't have to, because the state's 41 aquatic preserves, like, Lemon Bay, will help safeguard Florida's environment and quality of life for future generations to come."

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson

Mangroves and seagrapes by the shore

Key Accomplishments

  • Annual seagrass monitoring since 1999 at 6 different sites in Lemon Bay examines types, density, distribution and other parameters. Results indicate that seagrasses vary significantly throughout CHAP but generally appear healthy and diverse.
  • More than 20 years of data collected by the Charlotte Harbor Estuaries Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Network assisted with the recent Numeric Nutrient Criteria update of estuary specific water quality standards throughout the greater Charlotte Harbor complex.
  • A multi-agency agreement for a General Permit has been approved that identifies locations and dredge depths for boat navigation channels and seagrass protection throughout Charlotte County. These channel designs provide public access while protecting priority seagrass areas and identifying a No Internal Combustion Motor Zone, or pole and troll area, for the public interest requirement. 
  • CHAP staff participate in the Southwest Florida Oyster Working Group, which is a network of agencies, groups and local researchers working together to enhance and restore self-sustaining oyster habitat and related ecosystem services throughout CHAP and the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program area. This group assisted with creation of a general permit for restoration, establishment and enhancement of low profile oyster habitat, and development of an oyster habitat suitability model to guide future placement of oyster restoration projects. Future endeavors include creating oyster habitat throughout CHAP to replace loss of historical oyster bed acreages.

Volunteer recording water quality data

Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program

The Charlotte Harbor Estuaries Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Network (CHEVWQMN) is a network of volunteers throughout the estuaries in the Charlotte Harbor area who collect monthly water quality data on a consistent, technically sound basis. Established initially in the Lemon Bay area in 1996, the program now samples 46 sites throughout the Charlotte Harbor estuaries in Sarasota, Charlotte, and Lee counties. With over 100 highly trained volunteers, CHEVWQMN focuses on the most critical water quality parameters that can be collected in a reliable manner. Currently, 19 field and laboratory parameters are collected, including: water clarity, salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, total phosphorus, total nitrogen, turbidity, color, chlorophyll a and coliform bacteria.

Charlotte Harbor estuaries and tributaries are generally in good condition with higher levels of nutrients and color associated with summer rain and natural events. Lemon Bay tributaries have naturally lower dissolved oxygen and higher spikes in nutrients than the estuary itself. The data is used to set baseline estuary health conditions, long term trend analyses and to identify specific areas that need further scientific study or management actions. The data has been used to help identify impaired waterbodies, and set nutrient criteria standards. It has also been published in scientific journals, agency reports and is entered into the national STORET water quality data base. It is also available online for viewing or graphing at: http://www.chnep.wateratlas.usf.edu/chevwqmn/

Quick Facts about Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve
Map of Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve


Kayaker in Lemon Bay

Juvenile sheepshead
Juvenile sheepshead

Tulip snail
Tulip snail


Charlotte and Sarasota counties


7,227 acres of sovereign submerged lands


Mindy Brown
Aquatic Preserve Manager
12301 Burnt Store Road
Punta Gorda, FL 33955
(941) 575-5861

Aquatic Preserves logo

Friends of Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves

  • Lemon Bay, the smallest of the 5 Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves, was designated as an aquatic preserve in 1986.
  • It is long, narrow, and shallow. Two Gulf passes and seven tributaries flow into the aquatic preserve, creating a diverse network of mangroves, marsh grass, and vast expanses of seagrass meadows which cover most of the underwater habitats.
  • More than 150 species of birds, 100 species of invertebrates, and 200 species of fish reside in the bay.
  • Residents and visitors enjoy fishing, kayaking, birding, wading and beachcombing. Ski Alley, the Intracoastal Waterway and several anchorages are popular with recreational boaters.

Last updated: March 14, 2017

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