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September 20, 2020

This page last modified:
July 16, 2001

About Florida Bay

Florida Bay is a shallow inner-shelf lagoon located at the southern end of the south Florida watershed. It is an area where fresh water from the everglades mixes with the salty waters from the Gulf of Mexico to form an estuary that is surrounded by mangroves forests and encompasses over 200 mangrove islands. Its nearly 1,000 square miles of interconnected basins, grassy mud banks, and mangrove islands are nesting, nursery, and/or feeding grounds for a host of marine animals: the American crocodile, the West Indian manatee, the loggerhead turtle, bottlenose dolphins, a variety of bird species and many gamefish. Parts of the bay are also the nursery grounds for the economically valuable pink shrimp and Caribbean spiny lobster. Florida Bay is also important economically, supporting a 59 million dollar shrimp fishery and 22 million dollar stone crab fishery.

Where is Florida Bay?

Located at the southernmost tip of the Florida Peninsula. Florida Bay lies between the mainland and the chain of islands known as the Florida Keys. The Keys, and the Florida reef tract extend 220 miles south and west of the Florida peninsula. The islands were formed from ancient coral and sand shoals, which are covered by mangroves and tropical hardwood hammocks. The bay itself is characterized by many shallow interconnected basins, with an average depth of only three feet. Most of the bay lies within the boundaries of the Everglades National Park. The bay and the Keys are part of the greater South Florida ecosystem, one that is unique to the world. This South Florida or Everglades ecosystem is approximately 10,800 square miles extending from Orlando to the Dry Tortugas.

map of florida bay

The Florida Bay Education Project is an archived site. For more information go to NOAA's South Florida Ecosystem Education Project at