The Suncoast is home to a number of threatened and endangered animals. Upland, there is the wood stork, red-cockaded woodpecker, bald eagle, sandhill crane and Florida panther, which is extending its range northward. On the surface, the magnificent white pelican is a species of concern, and beneath it the Gulf sturgeon (endangered) and sawfish (threatened) coexist with the lowly bay scallop, which is absent from many areas of its historic range, most notably Tampa and Sarasota Bays. Despite numerous releases of millions of spat, scallops have not gotten a good start to date in Tampa or Sarasota Bays, although they have been successfully restored north and south of the Suncoast. Sea turtles, some of which enjoy healthy populations, and some of which (Kemp’s Ridley) do not, and are listed, use the Suncoast’s beaches for nesting, and are therefore found in the regions waters.
The Suncoast Waterkeeper will support efforts to protect and restore these and many other animals, including scientific research, habitat conservation and restoration, and legal action to prevent or halt damage to the species from anthropogenic causes. We support Sarasota County’s Environmentally Sensitive Lands program, and Florida Forever, as well as the state’s Outstanding Florida Waters (OFW) designation.