Charlotte Harbor (estuary)

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Charlotte Harbor and SW Florida in a NASA satellite image

Charlotte Harbor Estuary is a natural estuary spanning the west coast of Florida from Venice to Bonita Springs on the Gulf of Mexico and is one of the most productive wetlands in Florida.[1] The estuary has a large watershed, and includes Charlotte Harbor itself as well as the Peace River, Caloosahatchee River (via Pine Island Sound) and Myakka River basins. It covers 12,653 square kilometers (4,885 sq mi), the second largest open water estuary in the state.[2][not in citation given] It is classified as a bar-built estuary, formed when sandbars build up along the coastline. The sand bars block the waters behind them from the sea. Such estuaries tend to be shallow with minimal tidal action.[3]

This is a threatened ecosystem because of the rapid increase of growth and development, poor land-use policies, and the overuse of natural resources.[4] The Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves, established by the state of Florida in 1975, are five contiguous aquatic preserves within the greater Charlotte Harbor estuary. It includes salt marshes, mangroves, seagrass, oyster and tidal flats.[5] It is the preserve of many species, including the Florida panther, American alligator, West Indian manatee, bald eagle, wood stork, piping plover, American crocodile, green and loggerhead sea turtles, Gulf sturgeon, royal false pawpaw (Deeringothamnus pulchellus), Florida perforate cladonia (Cladonia perforata) and many more.[2]


  1. ^ "Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park". Retrieved 2007-01-19. 
  2. ^ a b "Charlotte Harbor". National Estuary Program. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Archived from the original on 2006-10-02. Retrieved 2007-01-19. 
  3. ^ "Bar-Built Estuary". Office of Marine Programs. University of Rhode Island. Archived from the original on 2006-09-11. Retrieved 2007-01-21. 
  4. ^ "Charlette Harbor National Estuary Program". Retrieved 2007-01-21. 
  5. ^ "The Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves". Retrieved 2007-01-19. 

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Coordinates: 26°46′33″N 82°08′31″W / 26.77583°N 82.14194°W / 26.77583; -82.14194