Photo Fiona Sunquist ©
Canaveral National Seashore. Tel. (407) 267-1110
Canaveral is one of ten National Seashores in the country. Managed by the National Park service, this site covers 23,000 hectares (57,000 acres) and protects the longest stretch of undeveloped beach on Florida’s congested Atlantic Coast.
Turtle Mound, which is located near the north end of the seashore boundary, is an excellent birding spot for fall migrants. Numerous raptors can be seen from the two platforms, and it is the best land site in Florida for observing sea birds, especially in late fall on days with strong northeasterly winds.
Behind the beaches and dunes lies Mosquito Lagoon, a long tidal estuary fringed by marshes, hardwood hammocks and mangroves. This is one of Florida’s great birding hot spots – over 300 bird species have been identified in the area. Together with neighboring Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, the site attracts major concentrations of wintering shorebirds and waterfowl. During spring and fall migrations the area attracts large numbers of songbirds and hawks.
The beach at Canaveral is an important nesting ground for three species of sea turtles. Between May and August park rangers and volunteers patrol the beach each night, looking for new turtle nests. They stake out a square of wire mesh screening over each nest to prevent raccoons from digging up the eggs. Nest sites are marked with wooden stakes and flagging. Turtle hatchlings can get out through the openings in the mesh.
The main entrance to the park is at Apollo Beach, on A1A, 11 km (7 miles) south of New Smyrna Beach. There are a few parking areas and boardwalk access to the beach but little else in the way of services. The number of people you see declines rapidly with increasing distance from the parking areas.
Biting insects (especially on the Mosquito Lagoon side) are horrendous in summer. Both Canaveral and Merritt Island are closed during space-shuttle launches.
More information on their web site
Canaveral National Seashore web site
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