The Indian River Lagoon Estuary
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
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
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
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.