Bordering the populous Miami - Dade County on the Atlantic Coast, the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves manage approximately 69,000 acres of natural resources. The public can explore this unique estuary with marine biologists through hands-on experiences i.e. wading, boat tours, kayak tours, and Bayologist Camp. Home to the occasional bottlenose dolphin, manatee, sea turtle, seahorse, and osprey.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Florida Coastal Office (FCO) is responsible for oversight of the State's 41 Aquatic Preserves, three National Estuarine Research Reserves, the Coral Reef Conservation Program, and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. It is the mission of FCO to conserve and restore Florida's coastal resources for the benefit of people and the environment.
Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves was established for the purpose of preserving, protecting, and enhancing Biscayne Bay and all natural waterways tidally connected to the bay in an essentially natural condition for the enjoyment of future generations by reasonable regulation of human activity within the preserves through the development and implementation of a comprehensive management program. The two aquatic preserves were created by the Florida Legislature in 1974 & 1975. Our Florida Administrative Code states our mission "to preserve and promote indigenous life forms and habitats". The four main goals of all state Aquatic Preserves are to protect and enhance the ecological integrity, restore areas to their natural condition, encourage sustainable use and foster active stewardship by engaging local communities, and to improve management effectiveness.
An already existing program is "Seinesational" where participants between the ages of 3-12 years old can wade in the bay with dip and seine nets to collect bay critters, while our biologists help participants identify species using identification guides. A newer program that is growing with popularity is our Bayologist Camp Program. This three-term program is available during winter, spring, and summer breaks where participants between the ages of 5-12 can learn about marine residents and habitats within the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves. Campers engage in hands-on activities like wading, walking the shoreline, boat & kayak tours with safety briefing, scavenger hunts on islands, and field-trips to local state parks. If that is not enough, once all three sessions are completed they graduate as "Junior Bayologist".