West Indian ManateeManatees can often be seen in the coastal waters surrounding St. Petersburg. If you happen to spot a manatee, please contact the Pinellas County Manatee Watch Line at (727) 464-4077. The Watch Line is an important tool used to identify area locations frequented by the manatee. Manatees have an average length of 10 feet and weigh 800-1,200 pounds. Manatees can be found living in freshwater, brackish or marine environments. These gentle marine mammals are the source of the legendary "mermaids of the sea". Today, the West Indian Manatee is classified as a federally endangered species and is threatened by boat and barge traffic, flood control structures, loss of habitat, pollution, and carelessly thrown trash and fishing gear. As these mammals are protected, do not harass or feed them.
Bottlenose DolphinsThis type of dolphin is common to the waters surrounding St. Petersburg and resides in groups called "communities" which tend to remain within the same general location for a number of generations. Dolphin feed on a variety of fish, including mullet, pinfish, and pigfish.
StingraysThis animal is common in the shallow waters around the St. Petersburg coastline. Stingrays feed from the bottom of the sea floor and can be seen floating, or flying', through the water. Stingrays are not aggressive, but will sting' you with their tail if stepped on. When wading in the coastal waters, do the Stingray Shuffle', shuffle your feet and kick up sand as you walk to avoid stepping on a stingray. Stingrays rest in the sand and can be difficult to spot if they have buried themselves.
FishThere are a great number of species native to the coastal areas of St. Petersburg. One species that you will often find close to the coast and in mangrove areas is the mullet. This fish is recognizable because it often takes flying leaps out of the water. In shallow areas, particularly around Weedon Island, it seems that there is almost always a mullet jumping near you. Other varieties of fish to look for include striper, snook, and amberjack (in deeper water).
HeronThe Great Blue Heron in Florida comes in two colors; gray and white. While they are the same species of bird, the white morph colored heron is distinguishable by a solid white body, yellow beak and pale legs. The gray colored heron has a gray body, a white crown stripe and a black plume extending from behind the eye to behind the neck. Herons in general have a large body, an S' shaped neck and long legs. Herons gather in shallow, coastal waters where fish are abundant. It is not uncommon to find these birds in large groups in shallow waters near mangrove areas fishing for a meal. Herons are also known for incorporating other animals into their diet, including mice.
Brown PelicanThis variety of pelican is the only dark colored pelican out of seven different types, and also the only one that dives from the air to catch its food in the water. The Brown Pelican is found on St. Petersburg's coastlines. In fact, there are a couple of pelican islands' located on the eastern side of the St. Petersburg, one south of Coquina Key along the Big Bayou BlueWay and the other in Coffee Pot Bayou along the Coffee Pot BlueWay. The Brown Pelican is listed as a Species of Special Concern in Florida. Over the last few decades, however, the population numbers have begun to climb again and the brown pelican population is gradually recovering.