With more than 1,200 miles of coastline, Florida’s habitats include many communities adapted to life along the sea, where wind and salt spray shape the environment.
Coastal dunes are created by the wind. Tall deep-rooted grasses, providing stripes of shade for the burrows of crabs and mice, anchor the sparkling dunes.
In the maritime, or coastal hammock, wind-swept live oaks create a canopy above lush thickets of saw palmetto.
Brittle grasses and succulent plants such as glasswort and sea purslane grow along the edges of salt flats and salt marshes, where herons, egrets, and ibises stride through the shallows.
Estuaries and coastal savannas are extensive grassy salt marshes punctuated by islands of cabbage palms, typically found between barrier islands and the mainland.
Mangroves grow particularly tall in South Florida, where in addition to mangrove swamps you’ll find dense mangrove forests along many coastlines.
In the Keys, a coastal berm develops between the mangroves and the shallow waters surrounding the islands, a sandy strand of low dunes and salt-tolerant vegetation.
The unusual tidal rock barren of the Keys is a salt-rich desert between the coastal berm and mangrove forest, supporting scrubby shrubs like the bay cedar.
The coastal prairie is shaped by the shallow seas around the Everglades and Keys, creating stark salty wetlands supporting buttonwood and pickleweed on a base of sticky limestone marl.
Anastasia limestone outcrops along the Atlantic to form rocky shorelines in several counties, including sea caves along Jupiter Island.
And then you have oddities such as the beach pictured here. Blackrock Beach looks like volcanic rock but is made up of compressed plant matter much like peat.