Tampa Bay

photo tampabay


  • Designated an “Estuary of National Significance” in 1990
  • Florida’s largest open-water estuary at 373 square miles
  • Over 2 million residents in the watershed
  • Includes portions of Hillsborough, Manatee and Pinellas counties
  • 2,200-square-mile watershed


Three main challenges exist in the Tampa Bay watershed:

  • Alteration and loss of coastal uplands and wetlands due to development
  • Spread of non-native animal and plant species
  • Degraded water quality from pollutant and nutrient loading
map tampabay


Through cooperation with other government agencies, these challenges are met by:

  • Developing a comprehensive conservation and management plan
  • Restoring the balance between coastal upland, wetland, and intertidal habitats
  • Implementing water quality improvement projects

Success Indicators

Successful project implementation is indicated by:

  • Improved water quality
  • Increased hydroperiods
  • Increased coverage of seagrasses within the Bay
  • Reduction/removal of non-native terrestrial and wetland species
  • Increased wildlife use

Future goals are then developed through an adaptive management process, always striving to help restore Florida’s natural ecosystems.