The City of Miami Beach is home to many wildlife species. Residents and visitors may encounter sea turtles, manatees, shore birds, migratory birds and more.
Sea Turtles and the Beach Ecosystem
The City of Miami Beach is a nesting habitat for three species of protected sea turtles; the Loggerhead, Green, and Leatherback. Annually, beginning in April and extending through early November, the native sea turtles come to nest on our beaches. Sea turtles dig a nest hole above the high-tide line and lay around 50- 175 eggs in between 3 and 7 nests during the summer nesting season.
Under the US Endangered Species Act of 1973 and Florida Statute Chapter 370, sea turtles are protected as well as illegal from harming their nests or hatchlings. It is important not to disturb hatchlings, eggs or nests since hatchlings need to crawl to the sea unimpeded. Touching nesting females, taking flash pictures of nesting females or hatchlings, or digging into nests is prohibited by law.
Manatees, also commonly known as sea cows, are large slow-moving marine mammals. Manatees are found in all Florida coasts, typically in habitats that consist of fresh and brackish waters as well as shallow ocean waters. Although manatees are entirely aquatic species, they must breathe air at the surface. A resting manatee can remain submerged for up to 15 minutes, but while swimming, it must surface every three or four minutes. With three different species of manatee, these herbivores glide slowly through water grazing only on water plants. Manatees are known to be docile and defenseless animals that are protected under state and federal laws. In recent years, manatees have been known to suffer from injuries related to motorboat propellers. In 2017, the West India manatee was reclassified on the endangered species list from endangered to threatened. This is great new for the species and means that improvements have been seen in manatee populations as well as habitats.
Commonly seen on TV and at many aquariums, the bottle-nose dolphin can be spotted in waters around the City of Miami Beach. These intelligent animals typically travel in small parties and have been known to have friendly interactions with humans in the wild. The bottle-nosed dolphin feeds on fish, especially mullet, often chasing them onto beach shorelines.
Shore Birds & Migratory Birds
Several species of shorebirds and seabirds nest along the beaches of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida. Birds such as the Brown Pelican, Great Egret, Terns, White Ibis, Herons, and Egrets are some of the most common bird species in the area. In Florida, many seabirds are migratory and can be seen in greater abundance during fall and winter migration.Learn more about pelican and shorebird conservation at http://pelicanharbor.org/