Estuaries occur in areas where freshwater rivers and creeks meet the ocean, and are one of the most productive ecosystems on earth due to mixing of nutrients from land and sea. These coastal waters are extremely important economically, providing habitat for 75 percent of our nation’s commercial fish catch, as much as 90 percent of recreational fish catch, and drawing millions of tourists each year. These areas are often threatened by human impacts and we must take action to restore and protect this unique ecosystem.
Volusia County is home to 3 Aquatic Preserves; Mosquito Lagoon Aquatic Preserve, Tomoka Marsh Aquatic Preserve and Wekiva River Aquatic Preserve. Other estuaries are present in the marsh areas of Volusia County, including the Halifax River and Spruce Creek, on a smaller scale; however, they are just as important in maintaining the delicate balance as the major contributories. Click here to see a map of estuary areas in Volusia County and the state of Florida.
Volusia County’s estuaries are an important habitat for various species of fish, birds, macro-invertebrates, and plants. Monitoring their health is vital for the survival of the ecosystem as well as the well-being of nearby residents.
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The Chicken Island Pilot Project was funded by a grant from the St. Johns River Water Management District’s Indian River Lagoon License Plate Tag Program, the goal of the program was to conduct a demonstration project using several types of restoration techniques to: 1) inhibit shoreline erosion through red mangrove plantings and to 2) increase oyster reefs by providing substrate for oyster spat to adhere and develop into fully grown oysters.
There are four estuaries in Volusia County and many areas that are considered estuaries. Find out more about our “Cradles of the ocean” and the wildlife that call them home.
Mangroves grow along our estuarine shoreline. They are unique because they are considered halophytes, meaning they are able to grow in salty conditions. Oysters serve several very important functions in the estuarine ecosystem. Not only do they provide habitat for other marine organisms and reduce erosion by absorbing the energy of waves that pass over them, but they also serve as a natural filtration system.
Smooth cordgrass and Black needlerush are the two dominant plant species that grow along our estuarine shorelines. They grow in the area where the water level fluctuates during high and low tides or the “intertidal zone." How do these grasses play an important role in the cycle of the “Cradle of the Ocean”?