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Apalachee Bay is located at the western extent of Florida's Big Bend coastline. Freshwater inputs into the estuary include the Ochlockonee, Sopchoppy, Wakulla, Wacissa, Aucilla, Enconfina and Fenholloway Rivers. The bay is in direct contact with the Gulf of Mexico but also contains some smaller, more isolated embayments including Ochlockonee, Dickson and Oyster Bays.
The region is characterized by limestone 'karst' topography and includes the popular tourist/diving area of Wakulla Springs (see link below). The estuarine ecosystem begins just offshore in the shallow waters of the Apalachee Bay. Forested swamps are located throughout the region, a great deal of which is protected by the 275 sq. km St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. The area is home to a wide range of terrestrial species and also provides nursery grounds for fish, oysters and other aquatic animals. The refuge utilizes man-made impoundments, which attract thousands of migratory waterfowl, shorebirds and wading birds, as well as other wildlife.
Coordinates: 30.02° N 84.38° W
Selected Characteristics: (USEPA, 1999)
Surface Area: 412 km2
Drainage Area: 11,900 km2
Average Daily FW Inflow: 150 m3/s
Average Depth: 3.0 m
Average Salinity: 30 ppt
Coastal Wetlands: 2,813 km2
Submerged Aquatic Vegetation: 130 km2
USFW. 1982. Gulf Coast Ecological Inventory Map; Gainsville, and Tarpon Springs, FL area. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1982.
USEPA. 1999. Ecological condition of estuaries in the Gulf of Mexico. EPA 620-R-98-004. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Gulf Ecology Division, Gulf Breeze, Florida. 80 pp.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife - St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
Florida Department of Environmental Protection - Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve
Florida Department of Environmental Protection - Bald Point State Park
Florida Department of Environmental Protection - Enconfina State Park
Florida Department of Environmental Protection - Ochlockonee River State Park
Florida Department of Environmental Protection - Edward Ball-Wakulla Springs State Park
Keywords: Bay, Estuary, Apalachee, Bird, Seagrass, Oyster, Limestone, Wakulla Springs, Florida
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