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Ecological Importance of St. Joseph Bay Aquatic Preserve Quick Topics

St. Joseph Bay is viewed by many as one of the most diverse, productive, and important natural areas in Florida. It is the only sizeable protected water in the eastern Gulf of Mexico that is not significantly influenced by freshwater flows. The crystal clear waters support an abundant and biologically diverse ecosystem. Seagrasses cover approximately one-sixth of the bay bottom and virtually the entire rim of the bay is bordered by saltmarsh habitat. Seagrasses and saltmarshes play an important role in the food web of the bay. A variety of commercial and recreational fish and invertebrate species utilize the bay's extensive habitat for nursery and foraging grounds. This area also serves as an important feeding, breeding and nesting area for a variety of bird species.

Habitat Map of St. Joseph Bay

Habitats Adjacent to St. Joseph Bay (PDF - 462 KB)

Migratory species:

The land surrounding the aquatic preserve is an important stopover during the Gulf coast fall and spring bird migrations. St. Joseph Bay lies between the Mississippi and east coast flyways, and therefore receives birds from both the midwest and Atlantic seaboard which use the Gulf of Mexico and peninsular Florida during migration. In season, the cape and peninsula are concentrated with thousands of migratory birds including warblers, vireos, tanagers, and grosbeaks. Hawk migration in the fall is particularly striking, since the St. Joseph Peninsula draws hawks from much of the North American land mass.

Commercial, recreational, and ecologically important species:
  • bay scallop
  • blue crabs
  • penaeid shrimp
  • mullet
  • spotted seatrout
  • flounder
  • redfish




Nesting pelicans

Nesting pelicans

Last updated: April 06, 2015

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