Waterways and the Wildlife      


Indian River Lagoon Wildlife Fishing Plants Boating Dredging Hunting



As featured with our past welcome sign, Cocoa Beach's Waterways and Wildlife are the City's treasures.  The City has 12.8 miles of Waterways. 


The City's Canals and Lagoon Waters are under the jurisdiction of the State of Florida.  This State is responsible for managing ground and surface water supplies throughout Florida.  The City of Cocoa Beach has also Go to..Detail Map of the Districtadopted rules in reference to beaches, fills, boats and waterways and these are noted in Chapter Five of the City Code


To the west of the City, you will find the Thousand Islands.  The Thousand Islands are located in the Banana River Aquatic Preserve.  The Islands lying approximately half mile south of SR 520 and north of Minutemen Causeway are leased by the City from the State for 50 years, ending in 2041.  They are a group of approximately fifty Islands some of which are naturally occurring while others were created during the development of Cocoa Beach and its canals in the 1950s and 1960s.  The Islands range from a fraction of an acre to 200 acres, for a total of approximately 900 acres. Canoeing through the islands is a local favorite. Click here: "The Origin of the 1000 Islands."


The Indian River Lagoon ~ A National Estuary

The City of Cocoa Beach falls in the East-Central Florida's Indian River Lagoon,  which was designated in the 1987 Surface Water Improvement and Management Act as a priority water body in need of restoration and special protection.  ... More about the Indian River Lagoon.
The Marine Resource Council  over the past 15 years, has focused on major issues involving the Indian River Lagoon including: flow from land drainage and its negative impact on estuarine productivity; loss of seagrasses and mangroves; coordinating local, state, or federal programs for the lagoon; and the need for public education to incorporate science into decision-making.   How can you help?
Check out how Brevard County's assesses the Indian River Lagoon

Excessive amounts of stormwater runoff deposit nutrients and sediment in the Banana River Aquatic Preserve, a segment of the Indian River Lagoon. These impact bottom-dwelling organisms, foster algae overgrowth, and smother seagrasses, which are critical to the health of the estuary. To help keep sand, leaves, and litter out of the lagoon, the City partnered with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the St. Johns River Water Management District to install a concrete pollutant control device that traps sediments and nutrients from a drainage basin serving a developed section of the City. This pollutant control device will captured a huge amount of material that is silting in the canals south of Minutemen Causeway.   This type of pollution control does not completely solve the problem - we still need to reduce the source of pollutants and work at retaining the runoff upstream - but it will slow the silting in of the canals south of Minutemen Causeway. 


The East Central Florida's Indian River Lagoon System is the most biologically diverse estuarine system in the continental United States and supports more than 3,000 species of animals and plants.

   The Indian River Lagoon species inventory provided  by:  Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce  

A West Indian Manatee - Click on Manatee For Facts
Collision with boats, habitat destruction 

Federally Endangered or Threatened Species:
Mammals: West Indian manatee, Southeastern beach mouse, Right Whale

Fish:  Shortnose sturgeon

Birds:  Bachman's warbler, bald eagle, Florida scrub jay, Kirtland's warbler, peregrine falcon, piping plover, red-cockaded woodpecker, roseate tern, snail kite, wood stork

Reptiles:  American alligator, Atlantic hawksbill turtle, Atlantic green sea turtle, Atlantic ridley sea turtle, Atlantic salt marsh snake, eastern indigo snake, leatherback sea turtle, loggerhead sea turtle



Fishing Licenses - The Brevard County Tax Collector serves as an agent of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. In this capacity, the Tax Collector is responsible for the sale of a variety of hunting and fishing permits.  Regulations require a nonresident to have a fishing license when saltwater fishing from a boat or land.  A Florida resident may saltwater fish from land without a saltwater license, but must have a license when saltwater fishing from a boat.  Under 16 or over 65 years olds- no saltwater license required.   A freshwater license is required for both residents and nonresidents.

   Fishing Licenses 

Here is what you need to know about Marine Fishing Regulations and Related Information.

   Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

What is catching?
Deep Sea Fishing
Spring: amberjack, jack crevelle
Summer: Jack crevelle, red snapper, grouper, dolphin (fish)
Year-Round: dolphin, grouper, king mackerel, wahoo, blue and white martin, sailfish, tuna, snapper
Pier Fishing
Spring and Fall: bluefish, Spanish mackerel
Late Summer/Early Fall: sea bass, tarpon
Year-Round: flounder, king and Spanish mackerel, sheephead, snapper, trout, weakfish, whiting
Surf Fishing
Spring: bluefish, snook, whiting, jack crevelle
Fall: bluefish, pompano
Year-Round: channel bass, flounder, pompano, Spanish mackerel, whiting

Indian River Lagoon
Spring Early Summer: mangrove snapper, snook
Year-Round: drum, sea bass, sheephead, spotted seat trout, weakfish

How big of a fish did you catch?  Check out the Anglers Card to see the size limitations. 

   Anglers Wallet Card
   (Compliments of St. Johns River Water Management District - PDF File)



Marine flowering plants or "seagrasses" have true roots, stems and leaves. Florida has an estimated 1,000,000 acres of seasonal seagrass  good for the marine environment   

   Identification of Florida's Seagrasses

What plants are in danger of extinction?

 Endangered plants

Want to plant native? 

Florida Native Plant Society

Florida, with over 3,800 species of native or naturalized ferns and seed plants, is the third most floristically diverse state in the United States.

Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants

What are Mangroves?  Florida's true natives!  Plants that thrive in salty water environments, which trap and provide attachment to marine organisms.  Out of the 50 worldwide species, three are found in Florida.  Can mangroves be trimmed?  Find out!

   Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Learn how to identify and control non-native invasive plants. 

Brochure produced by Tampa Bay Estuary Program



Observe the Speed Limit in the City's Waterways.  Speeding is enforced.

Report a speeding boat:  
1)Note the boat's FL number/boat registration number
2)Identify the location of speeding
3)Call the City's Police Department - (321)868-3251 or 868-3260


Waters of the Banana River within the City, including waterways and canals, are a designated manatee protection zone.  Motorboats operating on these waters are allowed to proceed only at slow speed/minimum wake.

Interested in boating?  The St. Johns River Water Management District publishes a full range of boating topics and resources to safely find your way around the Indian River Lagoon.  Make sure you check out what would be involved, what is considered a violation, Coast Guard required equipment, personal floating devices, and know what the navigational rules are.


  Indian River Lagoon Basin

Should my boat be registered? Boat Registration is required on all boats with motors, regardless of size.  A valid out-of state registration of any pleasure craft is recognized for up to  90 days in Florida; thereafter a Florida registration is required.  Boat registration is handled through the motor vehicle site of the Brevard Tax Collector.

Boat Registration

Boating License: The Florida Boating Safety Education ID Card (also referred to as the Florida boating License) is proof that a boater has taken and passed an approved boater education course. Anyone under 22 years of age, operating a power boat of 10 hp or more is required to have passed an approved boater education course.


Waterway Chart:  The Chart of the City's Canals showing navigable channels and markers is available for sale in the City Clerk's Office for a cost of $15.  You may also "click" here to access the chart.
Boat Launching Sites:  The City has two designated launching sites: Ramp Road Park off Ramp Road and Bicentennial Park off S.R. 520. 
Weather:  Get a radar image and base reflectivity from the National Weather Service before going out on your boat.

Check out this Weather Site: @ The beach - Almost Live Cocoa Beach Weather

 Melbourne - Florida, Radar

Local Tides

Weather Radio Broadcast Frequencies

NOAA Weather Radio
(Range approx. 40 miles)
WX-1, WX-2, WX-3
VHF Channel 22A 157.1 MHz
Coast Guard Marine Information Stations 2670.0 kH, 4428.7 kH, 6506.4 kH, 8765.4 kH, 13113.2 kH
National Bureau of Standards Time & Frequency Service 5, 10, 15 MHz

Weather Underground Marine Map

Water Temps & Wind Speed

National Data Buoy Center


Citizens  make up the Cocoa Beach Citizens Volunteer Marine Patrol.  They assist the Police Department by providing extra eyes and ears on the waterways.  Read about this program

The Cocoa Beach Marine Patrol Division patrols the City's waterways year round. 



Canal dredging efforts are currently underway in our northern-city residential canal system using the recently acquired Brightwaters property as a spoil site.

The City of Cocoa Beach has an active Dredging Program.  The Dredge was built by in-house crew at a large savings.  The material used was to ensure endurance of use. 

What canal is being dredged next?  The City is working on a grant application to get the 400 Channel dredged

Dredging - June 2009 Update
The City Dredge crew is currently not dredging any canals.

Contact City Staff Coordinating the Dredging of the City's Canals: (321) 868-3292 

Interested in the Waterways and Wildlife? Attend a Meeting of the City's Waterways and Wildlife Advisory Board, Second Thursday of the Month at City Hall 6:30 P.M.



Hunting is Prohibited on the Thousand Islands and within the City Limits.


  Photo of the pristine Thousand Islands

Aerial Photos:

Want to see what the City looks like to one meter resolution?  Check out these Aerials.

  • Visitors since April 1, 2004