As coastal habitats across south Florida become more and more developed, the natural habitats that our native wildlife need for survival are becoming scarce. Thankfully, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park serves as a refuge amongst the concrete jungle for many of these species. It's been identified that 55 imperiled species of plants and animals since 1994, and some of these species can only be found in the state of Florida.
In the water, Florida manatees and green sea turtles graze on aquatic plants. American crocodiles – native to the southern tip of Florida – have on occasion been seen cruising through the harbor. On the shore, birds like egrets and brown pelicans roost in the park’s trees, while others like peregrine falcons use the park as a pit stop on their long migration routes. At night, loggerhead sea turtles pull themselves ashore to lay their eggs.
An abundance of plant life can also be found within the park’s boundaries. Sea oats and bitter panicgrass keep the sand dunes that line the beaches from crumbling away, as their roots help hold the sand in place. Mangrove trees provide a safe haven for baby fish and other species, which hide in the prop roots that hold the trees above the water. Further upland, seagrape trees grow bushels of sweet, grape-like fruits, and gumbo limbo trees display their distinct red bark that looks as though it’s peeling off of the tree’s trunk.
Keep an eye out for these native species and many more while traversing our park’s trails and beaches.