About the Florida Bay
- Florida Bay is located off the southern tip of Florida
- It is an estuary covering 1100 square miles
- Salinity is affected by freshwater flowing from the Everglades
Dominant habitats in the Florida Bay include seagrass meadows, mangrove islands, and hard bottom areas. Turtle grass (Thalassia testudinum) and manatee grass (Syringodium filiforme) are abundant, providing nursery areas for commercially important species of shrimp, lobster, and crabs.
Mangroves also provide nurseries for reef fish and marine invertebrates as well as areas for nesting birds. Spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus), red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), tarpon (Megalops atlanticus), snook (Centropomus undecimalis), barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda), sharks, and rays are abundant throughout these habitats.
Sponges and corals, along with queen conchs, spiny lobsters, and brittle stars, dominate the hardbottom communities that are common in the southern portion of Florida Bay. Mixed algal communities are also an important component of hard bottoms, stabilizing sediments and providing habitat for small fish and invertebrates.
Glossary terms on page
- estuary: area where freshwater meets the sea, creating a salinity gradient from pure freshwater (0 ppt) to full-strength seawater (35 ppt).
- salinity: concentration of total salts dissolved in water, usually measured in parts per thousand.
- hypersaline: Water with excessive or supersaturated salt content.