* DEP Home * About DEP * Programs * Contact * Site Map * Search *
Physical Characteristics of Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve Quick Topics

Like most estuaries, Tampa Bay is a product of the fluctuations in sea level caused by glaciation. During times of lowered sea level, the river valley of Tampa Bay was cut into underlying limestone by its tributary rivers. As sea level rose during glacial retreat, the area was flooded and became Tampa Bay. The geomorphological landscape of Terra Ceia is a classic karst coastal terrain. Submerged lands and uplands are punctuated by relict sinkholes from past times when lower groundwater levels encouraged active karst processes.

As part of Tampa Bay, Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve (TCAP) is characterized by the inlets and embayments of a drowned shoreline. The preserve has open water, several inlet bays, and tidally influenced creeks and rivers. Inlet bays include Bishop Harbor, Miguel Bay and Terra Ceia Bay. Adjacent to Bishop Harbor, two additional inlets can be found: Williams Bayou and Clambar Bay. Miguel Bay is formed from the mainland and Rattlesnake Key. The largest inlet, Terra Ceia Bay is bisected by the U.S. 19 bridge. The open water of the preserve is bisected by the Sunshine Skyway and its southern causeway approach. The Terra Ceia River/Frog Creek and McMullen Creek provide freshwater to the system. The tidally influenced portions of these water bodies are part of the preserve.

Bathymetry map of Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve

Bathymetry of Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve (pdf - 2.07 MB)

Mosquito ditching, agricultural berms and remnants of dredge and fill projects have altered the geomorphology of the area. In many cases, historical sheet flow patterns have been channelized and freshwater areas have been connected to tidal flushing. Most of these impacts are confined to upland areas, but they affect the hydrology and sediment influx of the aquatic preserve.









Last updated: April 06, 2015

  3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 235 Tallahassee, Florida 32399 850-245-2094
Contact Us 
DEP Home | About DEP  | Contact Us | Search |  Site Map