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Charlotte Harbor Estuary is located on Florida's west coast near the city of Fort Myers and the tourist haven of Sanibel Island. It is 48 km long and 11 km wide with a total area of 699 sq. km. Encompassing a watershed of 7,190 sq. km, it is the second largest open water estuary in the state. The estuary includes Lemon Bay, San Carlos Bay, Estero Bay, Gasparilla Sound, Pine Island Sound and Matlacha Pass. The Myakka, Peace and Caloosahatchee rivers supply freshwater to the estuarine basin.
The area has been designated an estuary of national significance by the Environmental Protection Agency and five National Wildlife Refuges are located within the Charlotte Harbor watershed. The marine and adjacent terrestrial habitats of Charlotte Harbor are home to numerous species of plants and animals, including 42 federally- and state-listed critical or threatened species. More than 250 fish, 275 shellfish, 316 bird, 44 mammal and 55 reptile species live in the watershed.
Coordinates: 26.72° N 82.25° W
Selected Characteristics: (USEPA, 1999)
Surface Area: 805 km2
Drainage Area: 13,000 km2
Average Daily FW Inflow: 1 m3/s
Average Depth: 2.0 m
Average Salinity: 13 ppt
Coastal Wetlands: 2,525 km2
Submerged Aquatic Vegetation: 214 km2
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.
Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program. 2002. Located on the web at: http://www.charlotteharbornep.com.
Association of National Estuary Programs (ANEP). Located on the web at: http://www.anep-usa.org/factcards/charlotte.htm
Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program)
Association of National Estuary Programs - Charlotte Bay Estuary
Keywords: Charlotte, Harbor, Lemon Bay, San Carlos Bay, Estero Bay, Gasparilla Sound, Pine Island Sound, Matlacha Pass, Threatened species
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