Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve

Estero Bay

Estero Bay

This view is of the north end of Estero Bay in Ft. Myers where boats are moored and fishing boats are docked on both sides of the bay along with restaurants and homes. The Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve extends further south where the water gets shallower and the bay narrows. The state of Florida designated Estero Bay as the first Aquatic Preserve in the state in 1966. It has a fragile ecosystem consisting of mangrove forests, oyster beds, sea grasses that provide food and habitat for fish and crustaceans and nesting areas for many types of birds. Estero Bay is bordered on the west by a series of barrier islands including Estero Island (Ft. Myers Beach) , Black Island, Big Hickory Island and Little Hickory Island. It also has a series of inlets into the Gulf of Mexico where boats can pass freely from bay to Gulf. Estero Bay is an estuary where fresh water from the mainland and its tributaries mixes with salt water from the Gulf. The brackish water provides a rich and healthy spawning ground for fish, birds and other wildlife. It is a haven for people to fish, canoe, kayak or just sightsee and take photographs. It has  been threatened by water pollution by storm runoff and seepage of fertilizers, pesticides and human waste. There is an ongoing environmental effort by citizens and other groups to keep the bay healthy and vibrant. There are a few websites I have found that describe this preserve well and have pictures and videos of the bay. The Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection has a good introductory video of the Aquatic Preserve.  Anglerweb.com also has a good slideshow giving pictures of fish that are caught in the bay as well as offshore. I once took a jet ski trip around the entire island and it was great. The Aquatic Preserve is a good place to see manatees and dolphins. There are also many places to rent kayaks or canoes to explore the bay.

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