Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge

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By Water  25.888650, -81.570447 ( The GPS information in a general idea)



1000islandsTen Thousand Islands NWR is located in Collier County on the southwest coast of Florida. Established in 1996, this 35,000 acres refuge protects important mangrove habitats and a rich diversity of native wildlife, including several endangered species. The refuge is part of the largest expanses of mangrove forest in North America. Approximately two thirds of the refuge is mangrove forest, which dominates most tidal fringes and the numerous islands (or keys). The northern third of the refuge consists of brackish marsh and interspersed ponds, and small coastal hammocks of oak, cabbage palms, and tropical hardwoods such as gumbo limbo. Roughly 200 species of fish have been documented in the area and much of the sea grass beds and mangrove bottoms serve as vital nursery areas for marine fish. Over 189 species of birds use the refuge at some time during the year. Prominent bird groups include wading birds, shorebirds, diving water birds, and raptors. Common mammals found in the area include raccoon, river otter, and bottle-nosed dolphins. Notable threatened and endangered species include West Indian manatee, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, wood stork, and the Atlantic loggerhead, green, and Kemp's Ridley sea turles

Ten Thousand Islands NWR is located between Marco Island and Everglades City, Florida. The refuge is best accessed by boat. The two prominent boating access points are found in Goodland and Port-of-the-Islands.

The variety of wildlife in the refuge attracts birdwatchers and nature lovers. Manatees are frequently viewed in and around the refuge. Wildlife can be viewed from boats or by foot on a one-mile trail located off of U.S. 41 (Tamiami Trail). Currently, this is an unimproved trail, with limited roadside parking. Future plans include improving this trail with a parking lot, interpretive signs, observation tower, and paved bike path.

Refuge camping is limited, for the most part, to the coastal beaches during the winter months, when the mosquitoes and sandflies are less annoying. Refuge camping is directly associated with fishing and wildlife observation, and is a traditional use of these areas.

Only explore this area with nautical charts or GPS. Water depths can be shallow in  places.