Treasure Coast Wildlife
Florida’s warm climate and lush landscape are home to an abundance of wildlife that you won’t want to miss. By land and by sea, you'll be amazed at what you might observe in a single day on the Treasure Coast. Find out more about some of the creatures that call Vero Beach, Sebastian, Fort Pierce, and Jensen Beach home, and enjoy current events and stories about wildlife on the Treasure Coast of Florida.
Manatees, often called sea cows, are peaceful, slow-moving, ocean creatures. Seeing a manatee, while not unusual in our waters, is always a treat. Keep in mind, however, that these creatures, despite their size, need your care for survival. Look but don’t touch, feed them, or chase them. When boating, be careful, never pass directly over a manatee, and when fishing, reel in your line when a manatee is near.
As noted, it is possible to see a manatee just about anywhere in our waters and both Round Island Park in Vero Beach and Sebastian Inlet State Park in Sebastian are great places to spot manatees. In addition, visit The Manatee Observation & Education Center in Fort Pierce to learn more about these gentle giants while enjoying their observation area.
Florida is home to several species of dolphins; the most common is the bottle-nosed dolphin. Adults are typically 6 to 12 feet and their babies, we’ve seen them swimming around tiny as can be, are less than a foot long! Dolphins usually give birth in the spring and summer months and babies are best seen in the lagoon. Dolphins live both inshore and offshore and can be spotted from the beach and cruising around the lagoon.
Alligators have called most of Florida's marshes, swamps, rivers, and lakes home for many years. Because of their abundance, interactions with people may be frequent and while most Floridians have learned to coexist with alligators, injuries have occurred. While serious injuries are rare, remember, never feed alligators and always keep your distance. Swim only in designated swimming areas during daylight hours. Also, keep pets on a leash and away from the water.
We respect and appreciate our alligators. They are an important part of the Florida landscape and play a valuable role in the ecology of our wetlands. Alligators are predators and help keep other aquatic animal populations in balance, so coexistence is essential. But be especially aware during spring and early summer months when enjoying nature, as this is mating season for the gators which often leads gators to stray into new territory.
Florida panthers are large, light brown cats with a white muzzle, belly, and chest. Their tails, ears, and snout have black markings. While they are a subspecies of a mountain lion, you’ll know the Florida Panther by a unique crooked tale and patch of fur on its back. Although most panthers are found south of Lake Okeechobee, they have been documented throughout Florida. They are a protected endangered species so it is illegal to harm or harass them in any way.
February and March, Loggerheads following in April through July, and green turtles in late May through October. These species lumber up to shore to lay and bury their eggs before returning to the ocean. After about two months, the hatchlings, as a group, make their way to the water's edge following the light of the moon. Various organizations offer nighttime programs to safely watch these turtles make their nests along with daytime turtle digs (excavations to release straggling hatchlings), including Coastal Connections, Sebastian Inlet State Park, and Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge.
Sea turtles are a protected endangered species. It is illegal to harm or harass sea turtles, nests, or hatchlings. While there are many things you can do to protect these turtles, and all marine life, specifically during nesting and hatching seasons, turn off the lights! Keep beachfront lights off throughout the night from May to October as they can confuse sea turtles during the mating season.
Are you one of the many that happened to catch the extraordinary picture of the bobcat dragging a shark out of the surf in Vero Beach in 2015? Yep, bobcats are alive and well on the Treasure Coast. While Florida wild bobcats tend to live in forests, swamps, and dense shrubs, they have been occasionally spotted strolling our beaches. They don’t typically approach people unless they associate them with food, so please don’t feed them.
The bobcat is about twice the size of a domestic cat and has long legs, large paws, and a short bobbed, tail. The bobcat is one of two predatory big cats native to the Florida region.
Featured Wildlife Articles
Take a gander at our handy bird guide for to learn about feathered wildlife friends on the Treasure Coast.