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Nature and Wildlife

From nature hikes to kayaking trips to guided tours, there are numerous ways to enjoy nature and wildlife in Brevard County.

Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and home to the Indian River Lagoon and St. Johns River, the natural beauty of Brevard County is unparalleled, offering nature lovers up-close encounters with a rich array of rare and endangered plants and animals.

Birding, in particular, is hugely popular in the area as Brevard County is strategically located on a major bird-migration corridor. More than 330 species of birds have been spotted here, making this a prime bird-watching location and home to one of the country’s most popular bird-watching festivals, the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival.

Florida Scrub Jay

Florida Scrub Jay

Meanwhile, the 140,000-acre Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is home to more than 1,500 species of plants and animals and offers a variety of recreational opportunities. It’s also home to Black Point Wildlife Drive, a seven-mile drive on a dike road that weaves around several shallow marsh impoundments and through pine flatwoods, offering exceptional encounters with a variety of wildlife. The Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, located south of Melbourne Beach, is a designated protected habitat for nesting loggerhead sea turtles and the most significant green turtle nesting area in North America. Stretching 310 miles from Jacksonville to Indian River County, the St. Johns River is home to a variety of wildlife including alligators, dolphins and manatees, while the Indian River Lagoon is a critical habitat for the endangered manatee.

Brevard County has been called the hub of the East Coast manatee population, with a large number of manatees, including the endangered West Indian (Florida) manatee, in Brevard County waters throughout the year. Sixty species of plants and animals in Brevard County are classified as “imperiled,” including the Florida scrub jay, the gopher tortoise, the bald eagle and the panther.

In 1990, the Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) program was established to protect the natural habitats of Brevard County by acquiring sensitive lands for conservation, passive recreation and environmental education.