Florida can be a fun place to combine wildlife watching and typical beach tourism. The Peninsula hosts a variety of land mammals and ocean animals and the chances of spotting any specific animal primarily depends on the tourist destination. For example, a north-south geography divide defines the range for two of the largest and most well known of the Florida animals, the black bear and the official state animal the Florida Panther. Black bears are more abundant in the north, while panthers are only found in the south.
Additional carnivore species such as bobcats, red and gray fox, coyotes, otters and others also can be found in Florida. Central Florida, for example, lists the Red Fox and Coyote as non-native species. Additionally wild pigs and nine-banded armadillo are present in the area and considered non-native pests because their populations tend to crowd out other native species populations.
Like other areas of the United States, Florida also is home to a variety of backyard critters such as raccoons, rabbits and squirrels.
Florida Ocean Animals
A trip to Florida would not be complete without seeing the official state marine mammal the Florida Manatee. They inhabit Gulf Coast and Atlantic coastal areas, and information on local siting areas is provided in all the tourist areas.
Florida’s coastal areas offer a diverse array of common ocean animals such as sea stars, urchins mollusks and crustaceans. The mangrove areas of the south along with the Florida keys are often noted for their ocean animal populations. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service:
Mangrove communities are among the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world and that is especially true here in the Florida Keys. Mangroves are important habitat for wildlife, above and below the water. The prop roots of the red mangrove are nursery areas to many commercially and recreationally important fin and shellfish aquatic species.
Sanibel Island another hot spot on the southern end of the Gulf Coast is world renown for it’s seashell diversity.
Florida also has an ample amount of rocky beaches that host marine animals. Sandy beach goers also need not worry. A walk on almost any sandy beach means crossing paths with local crab populations. Snorkeling close to shore also provides another avenue for exploring the local animal life. Certain areas of the Panhandle such as the Destin Inlet Jetty and along the Atlantic Coast such as Sebastian Inlet also get recognized for their snorkeling opportunities.
Photographers who seek multiple photo opportunities in a day have a few choices. Florida also provides different types of one stop animal shopping experiences for visitors and residents. Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is a great place to visit to see a variety of land and ocean mammals. Many major cities also have their own zoos.
When you are finished taking all those great pictures, register with Gratography. Start sharing your pictures and stories about Florida animals here. The categories in the buttons below are very loosely organized to provide members and visitors a handful of different options.