Friday, 7 December 2012

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge was set up in 1963. The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is a 140,000-acre coastal refuge.  

The objectives of Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge are to provide habitat for migratory birds, to protect endangered and threatened species. 

The refuge provides a range of habitats, from saltwater estuaries and freshwater impoundments and marshes, to dunes, hardwood hammocks, and scrub. It is therefore rich in over 1000 species of plants, 117 species of fish, 68 amphibians and reptiles, 330 birds, and 31 mammal species. Of these species, 21 are listed as endangered either by the state of Florida or by the US federal government.

The refuge provides hiking and driving trails for visitors, with excellent opportunities for observing wildlife without causing disturbance; most of the species listed above can be seen by a casual visitor. An observation deck is provided near the drawbridge that carries State Road 3 over the Haulover Canal, in the northern part of the refuge, since manatees frequently congregate there. Boating is permitted on the waters around and within the refuge, and provides another excellent opportunity for observing the wildlife; there are facilities for launching pleasure boats at several places. In addition the refuge includes, and gives access to the unspoilt Playalinda Beach on the outer barrier island. Fishing is generally permitted, and hunting for wildfowl is allowed on a strictly limited basis. There is a comprehensive Visitor Center.

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