Charlotte Harbor Estuary, Florida
Charlotte Harbor Estuary (center) is a natural estuary spanning the west coast of Florida from Venice (north) to Bonita Springs (south) on the Gulf of Mexico.
It is one of the most productive wetlands in Florida. The estuary has a large watershed, including the Peace River, Caloosahatchee River (via Pine Island Sound) and Myakka River basins.
It is classified as a bar-built estuary, formed when sandbars build up along the coastline. The sand bars, visible along the coastline and framed with green algae, block the waters behind them from the sea. Such estuaries are tend to be shallow with minimal tidal action.
This is a threatened ecosystem resulting from the rapid increase of growth and development, poor land use policies, and the overuse of natural resources.
Many endangered species inhabit this area, including the Florida panther, American Alligator, West Indian Manatee, Bald Eagle, Wood Stork, Piping Plover, American crocodile, Green and Loggerhead Sea Turtles, and many more.
When the full image is opened, it is also possible to see the tip of the Florida Keys island chain.