Treasure Coast Wildlife

Florida’s warm climate and lush landscape is home to an abundance of wildlife that you won’t want to miss. On land and in the water, you'll be amazed at what you can observe in a single day on the Treasure Coast. Find out more about some of the various creatures that call Vero Beach, Sebastian and Fort Pierce home and enjoy current events and stories about wildlife on the Treasure Coast of Florida.

Wildlife Highlights

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, are gentle, slow and need your care for survival. Look but don’t touch. Don’t feed them or chase them. When boating, be careful and 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, but there are some viewing areas you may enjoy. Find out more about these wonderful creatures at the The Manatee Observation & Education Center in Fort Pierce and enjoy their observation area. Round Island Park in Vero Beach and Sebastian Inlet State Park in Sebastian are also a great place to spot manatees.


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, at less than a foot long. Dolphins usually give birth in the spring and summer months and the babies are best seen in the lagoon. Dolphins do live both inshore and offshore and it’s not uncommon to see them from the beach or 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 may occur. 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 and only swim in designated areas. 


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 Its 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 and it is illegal to harm or harass them in any way.

Florida Panthers

Sea turtle nesting and hatching season on the beaches of the Treasure Coast is usually quite a treat. Leatherback turtles are the first to arrive in 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 waters edge following the light of the moon. Various groups offer programs to safely watch these turtles make their nests and turtle digs 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.

Sea Turtles

Are you one of the many that happened to catch the 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 the 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, or 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.

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