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The Indian River Lagoon Estuary

The Indian River Lagoon (IRL) is part of the  longest barrier island complex in the United States, occupying more than 30% of Florida's east coast.  The extent of the IRL system spans approximately 156 miles from Ponce de Leon Inlet in the Mosquito Lagoon to Jupiter Inlet near West Palm Beach.

The IRL is a complex association of terrestrial, wetland and estuarine ecosystems which combine to create a complex ecosystem mosaic with high habitat diversity. But the feature which helps distinguish the IRL system from other estuarine systems, and also accounts for much of the high biological diversity in the Indian River Lagoon, is its unique geographical location, which straddles the transition zone between colder temperate, and warmer sub-tropical biological provinces. Here, as perhaps no where else in the continental United States, tropical and temperate species coexist and thrive.

The Indian River Lagoon System actually consists of 3 lagoons: the Mosquito Lagoon which originates in Volusia County, the Banana River in Brevard County, and the Indian River Lagoon which spans nearly the entire coastal extent of Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin Counties.

The 5 county area bordering the IRL receives tremendous economic benefit from its presence.  Commercial and recreational activities around the IRL support approximately 19,000 jobs and generate over $250 million dollars in annual income. Citrus agriculture in the vicinity of the IRL accounts for over 2 billion dollars per year, while recreational activities such as boating, fishing, water sports, hunting and ecotourism generate approximately $465 million dollars annually. Commercial fishing enterprises in the IRL and along the Florida coast generate approximately $140 million dollars in revenues, and account for nearly 15% of the national fish and shellfish harvest. And real estate leasing and sales along the lagoon account for over $825 million dollars in annual revenue.