Due to the geographic location, tidal connectivity through St. Lucie Inlet, and freshwater upper reaches, the
preserve is teeming with a unique combination of temperate and tropical species that tolerate a wide salinity
range (fresh to estuarine). To date, over 650 native species, including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds,
mammals, invertebrates, plants and phytoplankton, have been located and identified within the preserve and
The only known rookery for the endangered (federal and state) wood stork (Mycteria americana) in St.
Lucie County is in Mud Cove, within the preserve. It supports wood stork, great egret (Ardea alba),
snowy egret (Egretta thula), tricolored heron (E. tricolor) and anhinga (Anhinga
anhinga) populations. The rookery and the surrounding mangrove vegetation serve as important roosting
habitat for brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), little blue heron (E. caerulea), night
heron (Nycticorax spp.), glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) and white ibis (Eudocimus
albus). Preserve species that have the potential to affect nesting success in these rookeries include the
American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), bobcat (Lynx rufus), and raccoon (Procyon
lotor). The osprey (Pandion haliaetus) is commonly seen nesting in the floodplain and foraging
within the preserve.
The West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) is often seen in the historic riverbends within the
preserve where they occasionally feed on shoreline vegetation and reproduce. At least three species of bats
reside within the preserve and are usually seen feeding at dusk. The Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida
brasiliensis) is the most common species and can be found on the underside of bridges and inside
buildings. The Eastern yellow bat (Lasiurus intermedius) is the least common species and is usually
found in palm trees. Bats feed on insects, including mosquitoes and agricultural pests, and therefore play a
critical role in reducing the need for chemical pesticides near aquatic areas.