One of the oldest Wildlife Refuges in the country, KWNWR was established by Teddy Roosevelt in 1908, to protect a crucial habitat and breeding ground for birds, turtles and other wildlife. The refuge’s size is 300 square miles and only 1% of that is comprised of the mangrove islands, yet their canopies provide shelter for 250 species of birds, their trunks house the mangrove crabs and their roots exhibit a microcosm of life as juvenile species, both prey and predator, begin their lives here.
The Waters of the Refuge
Under the shallow waters of the refuge and overtop the
seagrass meadows, you can find all kinds of animals cruising by- from
young and old barracuda, stingrays, turtles, small bonnethead sharks to
conchs and many more.
Scattered throughout the seagrass are sponge gardens and hard
bottom communities where you’ll find invertebrates like lobsters and
crabs, an assortment of fish some camouflaged, some colorful, many in
their juvenile state as they try to survive to adulthood. We often times
get to snorkel these sponge gardens in the winter months and sometimes
the summer months, depending on wind conditions, they provide nice and
calm conditions and are tons of fun to explore, even when the wind
The Air Above
Above the water the wildlife refuge is host to vast numbers of
birds. Some are year round residents, some are here for winter, while
others may be like our guests and only in town for a few days. The
variety of birds in the area is what made John Audubon fall in love with
the territories we explore. He visited twice as he worked on his famous
series “The Birds of America”. The White Crown Pigeon and Florida
Cormorant provide beautiful examples of his work, both birds you can
catch a glimpse of in the refuge.
Lots to See!
• 250 Species of Birds
• Watch as birds nest and hunt
• Great White Heron, Ospreys, Frigates, Pelicans, et al.