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The Indian River Lagoon is a grouping of three lagoons: Mosquito Lagoon, Banana River, and the Indian River, on the Atlantic Coast of Florida. It was originally named Rio de Ais after the Ais Indian tribe, who lived along the east coast of Florida.



Its full length is 156 miles (251 km), extending from Ponce de León Inlet in Volusia County, Florida, to Jupiter Inlet in Palm Beach County, Florida[1][2], and includes Cape Canaveral. Lake Okeechobee is connected to the lagoon by the Okeechobee Waterway and the St. Lucie River meeting in Sewall's Point.

Aerial view of Indian River Lagoon

Portions of the Lagoon, from north to south:

Natural history

The Indian River Lagoon is North America’s most diverse estuary with more than 2,200 different species of animals and 2,100 species of plants. The Lagoon varies in width from .5 to 5 miles (0.80 to 8.0 km) and averages 3 feet (0.91 m) in depth. It serves as a spawning and nursery ground for many different species of oceanic and lagoon fish and shellfish. The lagoon also has one of the most diverse bird populations anywhere in America. Nearly 1/3 of the nation’s manatee population lives here or migrates through the Lagoon seasonally. In addition, its ocean beaches provide one of the densest sea turtle nesting areas found in the Western Hemisphere.

The diversity of the lagoon draws millions of boaters and fishermen annually, which brings tens of millions of dollars to Florida. Red Drum, Spotted seatrout, Common snook, and the formidable Tarpon are the main gamefish sought by anglers in the lagoon system.


In 2007, visitors spent an estimated 3.2 million person-days in recreation on the lagoon.[3]

In 2008, a study valued the lagoon at $2.1 billion.[4]


In 2007, concerns were raised about the future of the lagoon system, especially in the southern half where frequent freshwater discharges seriously threaten water quality (decreasing the salinity needed by many fish species) and contribute to large algae blooms (water heavily saturated with plant fertilizers promote the algae blooms). The lagoon has also been the subject of research on light penetration for photosynthesis in submerged aquatic vegetation.[5] The seagrass covers over 100,000 acres and is a critical component to the overall health of the lagoon.[5][6]

See also


  1. ^ Indian River Lagoon Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan
  2. ^ Indian River Indian River Lagoon
  3. ^ "Visitors spend big on the lagoon". Indian River Lagoon Update XVI (3): 1. Summer 2008.  
  4. ^ [1] retrieved October 12, 2008
  5. ^ a b Hanisak, M. Dennis. "Continuous Monitoring of Underwater Light in Indian River Lagoon: Comparison of Cosine and Spherical Sensors.". In: EJ Maney, Jr and CH Ellis, Jr (Eds.) The Diving for Science…1997, Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences, Seventeenth annual Scientific Diving Symposium. Retrieved 2009-04-02.  
  6. ^ Dawes, Clinton J.; M. Dennis Hanisak, and Judson W. Kenworthy (1995). "Seagrass biodiversity in the Indian River Lagoon". Bulletin of Marine Science 57 (1): 59–66. Retrieved 2009-04-02.  

External references



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