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Best Places to See Florida Marine Life

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On: Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 9:25AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

If you are planning a boating excursion in Florida this summer and wish to see some great ocean wildlife, there are some spots that are most likely to have an abundance of sea life such as live reefs,  sea turtles or the infamous Florida Manatee.

The best place in Florida to see live Sea Turtles is in West Palm Beach where every year beginning in May through October, the beaches in Palm Beach County are filled with the Loggerhead, Green, and Leatherback Sea Turtles that come to nest. West Palm County is also considered a world renowned diving area offering a variety of unique encounters with an amazing marine life ecosystem. This area was actually voted 4th healthiest marine environment in all of North America, so whether you are planning to go boating, snorkeling or scuba diving, (the coral reef ecosystems and outstanding wreck diving with depths ranging from 30 to 130 feet), you can’t go wrong in putting West Palm Beach on your list of must see places this season.

Looe Key has been deemed the best place to see the living reef in Florida. Located about five nautical miles offshore of Big Pine Key is Looe Key, it’s not really an island but rather a “groove and spur” reef and part of the reef system that parallels the Atlantic side of the Florida Keys. The reef is roughly 200 yards wide and 800 yards long and is “U” shaped. Because of its distinctive shape and varying depths, Looe Key is an excellent scuba and snorkeling site for anyone regardless of skill level. Water clarity is excellent and the reef is home to over 150 species of fish including yellowtail, angelfish, parrotfish, barracuda, sergeant majors, and moray eel, other species spotted frequently are several shark and ray species. The coral reef has a history of 7000 years of growth, that has produced about fifty species of corals including staghorn, elkhorn, star, brain, and fire corals. With approximately 5 square miles of astonishing reef to explore, this area is one of the top snorkel and dive spots in the entire world, and the best reef in North America. This 5.5-square-mile National Marine Sanctuary is a highly protected underwater ecosystem considered an underwater haven similar to the big reef structures found in the Bahamas.

If you are expecting to see Manatees this summer after spending the winter in clear spring runs, many manatees spend the remainder of the year isolated throughout the rest of the state in murky water. One exception is the Wakulla River located just south of Tallahassee. This river is a product of a huge underwater fountain, Wakulla Springs which is a protected State Park. Manatees are often near the mouth of Wakulla River where it pours into the Gulf of Mexico. To find the area, simply follow U.S. 98, which parallels the Gulf, until it crosses the river. Visitors can rent canoes at the canoe rental outfit, located where the bridge crosses the Wakulla. The Canoe trip offers a chance to see a wide variety of wild life including turtles and even alligators not to mention the Manatees.

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