Coupon Bight is a microcosm
of blended perfection
Coupon Bight Aquatic Preserve is another one of those incredible Florida Keys vacation experiences you just have to know about.
The Florida Keys is an area richly blessed with an abundance of marine life, mesmerizing water, and tropical climate.
You'll find that there are more activities than you could possibly pack into two lifetimes, and then along comes another fantastic spot to explore.
The Preserve is surrounded by the protected waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
It abuts onto the National Key Deer Wildlife Refuge, the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge,
and it includes within it's boundaries Newfound Harbor Key Sanctuary Preservation Area.
Situated south of Big Pine Key, it covers 6,000 acres and is primarily composed of two different regions.
The ocean side sits south of the Newfound Harbor Keys
and is where the patch coral reefs
North of these Keys is the Coupon Bight lagoon. This mangrove lined tropical body of water is edged with sea grasses, and a few small beaches where sea turtles
come to nest.
Semi-circular in shape, the lagoon spans about 2.2 miles in length and 1.6 miles in width. It averages about 6 feet in depth and is dotted with tiny, mangrove ringed islands.
Overview Map of Coupon Bight Aquatic Preserve
Courtesy of www.dep.state.fl.us
One set of GPS coordinates for Coupon Bight is 24 38.40N 081 21.51W. Obviously being such a large area, many other coordinates are available, but this at least gets you to the Preserve.
The shallow water is ideally suited for the numerous wading birds and the animals in the area. Different species of heron, egret, spoonbill,
ibis, and other birds like osprey and anhinga
hunt the plentiful supply of fish and crustaceans living in the sea grasses and shallows of the basin.
The National Key Deer Refuge
is located just north and abuts directly on the Aquatic Preserve. The Key Deer
who reside within this area are able to easily travel through the shallow water, moving from small island to small island in search of food.
On the south side of the Newfound Harbor Keys you'll encounter the open ocean and the rounded patch coral reefs. These reefs provide a sanctuary for a diverse group of marine life including sponges, juvenile fish, tropical fish, spiny lobster, and crab.
Not only is the environment perfect for fish, birds and wildlife, it's a popular recreational destination for visitors, residents and groups.
Due to the makeup of the Aquatic Preserve, the Boys Scouts use the area to educate their members about marine life, and to teach kayaking and sailing skills. A local organization called The
Newfound Harbor Marine Institute
also offers marine education classes geared towards children from around the globe.
Kayaking a Mangrove Channel
Photo Courtesy Teresa Smith
What makes the Preserve so special is it's peaceful beauty combined with it's tremendous variety of animals, birds and marine life. It's easy to spend countless leisurely hours Florida Keys kayaking, boating, or canoeing the calm waters of the lagoon, capturing memorable photos of Coupon Bight.
The area is also a popular destination for fishing. The mangrove roots are particularly productive for catching snook
who hideout and ambush unwary prey.
The coral reefs prove to be a major drawing card for snapper, grouper and other predators looking to feed on the juvenile fish seeking protection from the reefs. Plus if you're in the Florida Keys during lobster season, you can plan on bringing in your quota on a visit to the Preserve.
The basin is also a great solution for novice divers and snorkelers wanting to experience the beauty of the coral reefs without worrying about their skill level. The calm shallow waters are easy to maneuver, and they're filled with an abundant selection of brightly colored tropical fish, coral, and game fish.
In fact, the marine life is so plentiful that it has become a popular commercial destination for harvesting. Fishing charter companies also frequent this area because of it's known productivity for their clients.
Some of the species you can expect to find throughout the Preserve are loggerhead and green sea turtles, roseate spoonbill, little blue heron, great white heron,
great blue heron, snowy egret, reddish egret, white crowned pigeon, peregrine falcon, white ibis,
tri-colored heron, snowy plover, key deer, Lower Keys rabbit, manatees,
sting rays, sharks,
jellyfish, oysters, seahorses, shrimp, crab, spiny lobster, bonefish,
snapper, snook, permit, grouper,
angelfish, damselfish, wrasses, grunts, parrotfish, butterflyfish, surgeon fish, star, brain and other corals.
Coupon Bight is one of those destination spots that starts out as an outing and turns into a lifetime event. You can never get enough of something that's just this good whether scuba diving Florida Keys, snorkeling, kayaking or fishing.