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The Indian River Lagoon is a grouping of three lagoons: Mosquito Lagoonmarker, Banana River, and the Indian River, on the Atlantic Coast of Floridamarker. It was originally named Rio de Ais after the Ais Indian tribe, who lived along the east coast of Floridamarker. Its full length is , extending from Ponce de León Inletmarker in Volusia County, Floridamarker, to Jupiter Inletmarker in Palm Beach County, Floridamarker, and includes Cape Canaveralmarker. Lake Okeechobeemarker is connected to the lagoon by the Okeechobee Waterway and the St. Lucie River meeting in Sewall's Pointmarker.

The Indian River Lagoon is North America’s most diverse estuary with more than 2,200 different species of animals and 2,100 species of plants. The Lagoon varies in width from ½ mile to and averages in depth. It serves as a spawning and nursery ground for many different species of oceanic and lagoon fish and shellfish. The lagoon also has one of the most diverse bird populations anywhere in America. Nearly 1/3 of the nation’s manatee population lives here or migrates through the Lagoon seasonally. In addition, its ocean beaches provide one of the densest sea turtle nesting areas found in the Western Hemisphere.

Aerial view of Indian River Lagoon
Portions of the Lagoon, from north to south:
  • Mosquito Lagoonmarker, from Ponce de Leon Inlet to the north end of Merritt Islandmarker, connected to Indian River by Haulover Canal.
  • Indian River, the main body of water, from the north border between Volusia and Brevardmarker Counties along the western shore of Merritt Island, southward to St. Lucie Inlet.
  • Banana River, an offshoot of the Indian River, northward making up the eastern shore of Merritt Island.
  • Hobe Soundmarker, the portion of the lagoon from St. Lucie Inlet to Jupiter Inlet.

The diversity of the lagoon draws millions of boaters and fishermen annually, which brings tens of millions of dollars to Florida. Red Drum, Spotted seatrout, Common snook, and the formidable Tarpon are the main gamefish sought by anglers in the lagoon system.

Recently concerns have been raised as to the future of the lagoon system, especially in the southern half where frequent freshwater discharges seriously threaten water quality (decreasing the salinity needed by many fish species) and contribute to large algae blooms (water heavily saturated with plant fertilizers promote the algae blooms). The lagoon has also been the subject of research on light penetration for photosynthesis in submerged aquatic vegetation. The seagrass covers over 100,000 acres and is a critical component to the overall health of the lagoon.

In 2008, a study valued the lagoon at $2.1 billion.

See also


  1. Indian River Lagoon Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan
  2. Indian River Indian River Lagoon
  3. [1] retrieved October 12, 2008

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