Anclote Bar (20 acres; 8 hectares of uplands), Anclote Key State Preserve (438 acres; 177 hectares), Caladesi Island State Park (650 upland acres [263 hectares] and 1100 acres [445 hectares] of mangroves and grass flats), Honeymoon Island State Recreation Area (2808 acres; 1136 hectares]), and Three Rooker Island (110 acres; 44 hectares)
In the Gulf of Mexico in extreme southwestern Pasco County and northwestern Pinellas County, generally 24 miles (3.26.4 km) off the mainland between Anclote and Dunedin. Offshore of the Coastal Pasco IBA to the east.
Several barrier island systems off the heavily developed central Gulf coast. Honeymoon Island State Recreation Area is connected to the mainland, while the others are accessible only by boat. Several islands continue to increase in size from coastal accretion. All islands receive heavy visitation on weekends during spring and summer; Honeymoon Island receives over 700,000 recreationists annually, and this number is increasing.
Honeymoon Island State Recreation Area contains a rare remnant 80-acre (32-hectare) virgin slash pine flatwoods. Loggerhead sea turtles nest along the beach. ? The Anclote Key Lighthouse was built in 1886; it was decommissioned in 1984.
The islands are critical for shorebirds (especially small plovers) and breeding larids. Mangrove forests support one or more pairs of Mangrove Cuckoos and Black-whiskered Vireos and several pairs of Florida Prairie Warblers, and the uplands attract Neotropical migrants. Mangrove Cuckoos reach their northern limit within the IBA. Anclote Bar is designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as critical habitat for wintering Piping Plovers. Overall diversity is 268 native species.
Anclote Bar and Anclote Key State Preserve
Shorebirds (W), winter 1993-94 - 3088
Caladesi Island State Park
Shorebirds (W), winter 1993-94 - 1432
Honeymoon Island State Recreation Area
Shorebirds (W), 27 Dec 1998 - 2700
Swainson's and Gray-cheeked Thrushes (M) - 23 Apr 1997 - 250
Wood-warbler diversity - 34 spp
Diversity - 268 natives, 8 exotics
Three Rooker Island
Shorebirds (W), winter 1993-94- 1582
Shorebirds (W), 5 Dec 2001 - 1932
Anclote Bar has been used heavily by recreational boaters and their dogs. Because of the importance of the key to nesting larids and wintering Piping Plovers, a management plan is being implemented. Critical bird habitats will be roped off against human and dog intrusion. Boaters have stated they will comply with new regulations, although they wish for few or no restrictions. ? Honeymoon Island: Nesting areas for shorebirds and Least Terns are roped off seasonally, and some areas may be permanently posted to protect year-round roosting areas. ? Unleashed dogs harass roosting shorebirds and larids at the Pet Beach. ? Pine flatwoods are burned for habitat maintenance. ? Most of the Brazilian pepper has been removed from the Recreation Area. Three Rooker Island: About 60% of the island is posted seasonally to protect nesting or roosting birds, but Snowy Plovers nest non-colonially, and usually are outside protected areas. The Florida Park Service is revising its management plans and is increasing emphasis on bird protection. Unleashed dogs continue to be a problem.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
*slash pine flatwoods, *mangrove forest, *coastal strand, *estuarine, temperate hammock, fields, tidal marsh