Waterways in Florida are home to amazing aquatic life! While you’re on the water, you may also spot some of Florida’s birds and land animals, too. Below you will find what kind of wildlife can be found in various kinds of Florida waterways, both fresh and saltwater.
Atlantic Ocean & Gulf of Mexico
Although marine life can be harder to find offshore, there is more of it there than in the intercoastal waterways. In fact, offshore you may come across not only the Bottlenose Dolphin, but other species as well. The water is also clearer offshore, too.
For those who can’t go far offshore to look for wildlife, plenty can still be seen right from the beach. Small sharks are a common sight, hunting “finger mullet” and other baitfish. Bottlenose Dolphins are also often seen cruising down the shoreline, usually just beyond the waves, however, if you’re lucky you may catch a playful group of them surfing the waves, if the waves are big enough. I have personally seen this myself while walking down Cocoa Beach in the early morning and while sitting in a restaurant on the Cocoa Beach pier.
If you’re wanting to see wildlife from the beach and clear water at the same time, Florida’s east and northeast coasts are probably not the place, as the water is very murky here. However, Florida’s southeast and Gulf coasts do provide both clear water and wildlife.
Saltwater Intercoastal Waterways
In Florida’s intercoastal waterways, marine life is usually easy to find, especially when you are close to an inlet. Bottlenose Dolphins are very commonly seen here, and so are manatees, various species of birds and fish, sharks, sea turtles, and more. The intercoastal waterways in Florida’s southeast and Gulf coasts have clear water, allowing you to better see the underwater animals.
In intercoastal waterways, the closer to an inlet you are, the more sealife you’ll find. Fish and birds can be seen in just about any body of water, but it’s easier to find sealife closer to an inlet.
Some of Florida’s much loved animals, like manatees and Bottlenose Dolphins, will venture far up intercoastal waterways. Manatees are known for their winter migrations to freshwater springs, and in the Halifax River on Florida’s northeast coast, Bottlenose Dolphins can sometimes be found in the Tomoka River basin and Tomoka River, over twenty miles from the nearest inlet to the ocean.
Freshwater Rivers & Lakes
Although some rivers and lakes in Florida have very murky water, some are quite clear – it may just take a little exploring to find the clear ones.
In rivers and lakes which are attached to the ocean, manatees can be found. Birds, otters, alligators, turtles, and fish are also found in freshwater lakes and rivers.
The water in Springs is usually very clear and blue, allowing you to really get a good look at the aquatic life. In the winter, manatees can be seen around springs, and other animals, including garfish and other fish species, alligators, turtles, otters, and birds can also be found in these incredible habitats.