Ecosystem Connectivity

An aerial view of mangrove islands meeting the sea
Mangroves, seagrass meadows, tidal flats, and coral reefs are all ecologically connected. Photo: Jack Fishman

The Florida Keys are part of an expansive watershed that includes mainland South Florida, the Southwest Florida Shelf, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, Straits of Florida, and Atlantic Ocean. This means that in addition to land-based runoff and other pollution generated locally from the islands themselves, the nearshore waters of the Florida Keys are affected by waters that originate far away and travel to the Keys by way of surface currents. Degraded waters discharged from Florida's east and southwest coasts can flow south to the Keys and expose sensitive corals and seagrasses to turbid, nutrient rich waters. Water from Florida Bay, including algae blooms brought about by nutrient-rich conditions, can flow to the ocean side of the Keys with tidal exchanges through the passes between the islands.

An aerial view of wetlands with ocean in the distance

South Florida Ecosystem Restoration

Learn about projects involving the restoration of the Everglades ecosystem in South Florida.

several brown birds sit on a dead tree stump along a shoreline

Ecosystem Connectivity Team

This working group facilitates collaborative projects related to Everglades restoration, water quality, habitats, and living marine resources within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.