Description - Island Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a group of six high ground island tracts, with the highest reaching 20 feet above mean sea level. The unnamed islands between Bull and Turtle Bay have a mean sea level elevation of four feet. Combined, 20 acres of wetland offer visitors an opportunity to boat, fish, or paddle through brown pelican nesting habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established this important conglomerate of mangrove wilderness in 1970.
Copyright: US Fish and Wildlife Service
Expansive Wetlands Amid National Wildlife Refuge
- Located in a vast complex of mangrove islands and brackish bays, Island Bay Refuge consists of roadless wilderness totaling 20 acres. These tracts of lands do not include entire islands but rather occupy the higher portions of several islands and the mangrove shorelines including: Gallagher Key, Bull Key, and two unnamed islands between Bull and Turtle Bay. Small isolated beaches of white sand scatter the shores of Gallagher Key and Bull Key. Also include are the Cash and John Quiet Mounds, located on the edge of Turtle Bay.
The Cash and John Quiet Mounds are of historical interest due to the large Calusa Indian middens that dominate the sites. The Calusas who inhabited the coastal area of South Florida hundreds of years ago built these mounds. Their principle source of food, shellfish, was derived from the sea and these mounds of shell mark the areas inhabited by the Calusas. Cash and John Quiet Mounds are a part of the expansive network of shell middens occurring in South Florida.
The beaches and shores of the refuge provide loafing and feeding sites for shorebirds, gulls, and terns. The surrounding shallow bays provide valuable feeding areas for the wading and waterbirds. Other vertebrates known to use the refuge or surrounding waters include raccoons, marsh rabbits, manatees, and sea turtles.
Recreation - Island Bay National Wildlife Refuge permits boating, fishing and wildlife viewing. Nearby, visitors will find J.N. "Ding" National Wildlife Refuge which hosts a more extensive list of outdoor recreations.
Climate - The climate in southern Florida is subtropical, with mild winters and hot, wet summers. It is not unusual for temperatures to exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit with averages reaching above 83 degrees Fahrenheit (above 29 Celsius). Winters are mild and dry with temperatures averaging above 64 degrees Fahrenheit (above 18 Celsius). Yearly precipitation for the southwest area is more than 56 inches. Lightweight clothing for hot temperatures is suggested. Long sleeves, pants, sturdy shoes and bug repellent are recommended if hiking.
Island Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a group of six roadless parcels of high ground on separate mangrove islands. Shorelines include Gallagher Key, Bull Key, and two unnamed islands between Bull and Turtle Bay. The refuge includes two other tracts, Cash and John Quiet Mounds, located on the edge of Turtle Bay.