Florida's CAMA Aquatic Preserves
More than 4 million acres of submerged lands and coastal uplands are managed by the Office of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas (CAMA) in Florida. The properties include 41 Florida Aquatic Preserves and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (which is managed in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). These aquatic preserves are located all along Florida's coastline and often go unnoticed by many visitors to the area.
Most of the aquatic preserves in Florida adjoin state parks, so it is very possible that when you took a trip to one of our beautiful shoreline destinations, you were only a short distance from a designated marine location. Being close to the undeveloped properties of our Florida State Parks contributes to the pristine condition commonly found in these preserves, and can be of assistance for those wishing to explore them. With their underwater characteristic, they don't have clearly identifiable boundaries or property markers, but can provide abundant additional recreational opportunities for those seeking to observe the natural Florida ecosystems.
Some of the areas familiar to many which are also part of an aquatic preserve include such destinations as St. Joseph Peninsula in the Forgotten Coast, Cedar Key in the Nature Coast, Ten Thousand Islands in the South Florida Area. Additional information about all these areas and many other Florida Coast destinations is available from our "Coastal Areas" section on Florida Nature Guide. Visitors to these popular Florida nature areas (along with 38 others) may have been unaware that a preserve was close at hand; playing an important part in their experience, and offering additional beauty just below the surface.
As we explore the beautiful surf along white sand beaches, paddle through the mangrove estuaries or follow inland trails for birding and wildlife observation, it is often easy to forget the hidden adventures that await those taking a closer look. Many of the areas enjoy warm and gentle surf, inviting those interested in unique and memorable Florida experiences to observe underwater nature by enjoying snorkeling activities or exploring the near shore areas by canoe or kayak.
The Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail was developed by the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails in partnership with CAMA, and passes through 37 of these aquatic preserves. This 1500 mile trail designed for sea kayaking adventures also connects through 47 state parks and three National Estuarine Research Reserves and allows for easy access to individual segments for paddling activities. Whether by kayak or canoe, those not adventurous enough to tackle and extended trip will enjoy exploring some of the many individual segments which have been clearly identified by this paddling resource.
Following is a current list of aquatic preserves in Florida, along with links to the CAMA related page for each of these coastal treasures:
Additional canoeing and kayaking resources, along with links to the paddling sites linked above are available from our page dedicated to Kayaking & Canoeing on Florida Natue Guide.