Take a Stroll along The Pier, Learn about Tampa Bay

Water Walk is All About Tampa Bay

1. We can't live without water. Water is the main ingredient for life on Earth, but almost all of it is locked in the salty ocean.

2. Tampa Bay is Florida's largest open-water estuary. An estuary is a place where fresh water from rivers and uplands meets the salt water of the sea. When healthy, Tampa Bay is one of the world's most productive natural systems.

3. The coastal uplands (areas that protect the coastline from flooding and erosion during storms) are home to many of Tampa Bay's threatened and endangered animals such as the gopher tortoise, eastern Indigo snake and Florida scrub-jay. They all feed, find shelter and raise their young in this unique habitat.

4. Four species of mangroves grow in the Tampa Bay area. They are Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans), White Mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa) and Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus). Mangroves are one of a few plants that can survive in salt water and are protected by law.

5. Seagrasses act as a nursery for many fishes, crabs, shrimp and other shellfish. The young hide among the grass blades and feed on leaves and other creatures living on the grasses. Seagrasses also act as a filter and help keep the water clear.

6. Many plant and animal species in Florida are invasive, meaning they are not native to our environment here. Some of these plants and animals are a big problem for the native Tampa Bay ecosystem.

7. As many as 40,000 pairs of birds nest here evey year. Others, including sandpipers and white pelicans, are seasonal visitors that feast on the the fish, crabs, shrimp and insects that thrive in our warm waters.

8. Tampa Bay is home to more than two million people and almost half a million more may arrive in the next few years! They are drawn here by the area's natural beauty, the outdoor activities and the growing economy, all of which depend on a healthy estuary.