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Island with a bird

Where to see nature’s greatest shows

Fort Myers Nature & Wildlife

In Southwest Florida, nature thrives in its diverse ecosystems, and your views of it shift throughout the seasons. Manatees are drawn to inland rivers and canals in cooler months and move toward the Gulf of Mexico when the water is warm. Cruise around on the water to spot dolphins and other marine animals playing in the wild. Sea turtle nesting season is a critical period on our beaches between May and October. Every year, migratory birds arrive here in droves, and you’ll be able to spot reptiles lurking in nature refuges. Welcome to the untamed beauty of Fort Myers’ islands, beaches and neighborhoods — where wildlife thrives in its purest form.

One of the friendliest animals you’ll encounter, the Florida manatee is also one of the Gulf’s most iconic creatures. Most people never forget their first experience with these gentle giants. Drawn to our coastline by the warm waters, keep an eye out when you’re in a kayak in case one surfaces next to — or accidently under — your boat.

Sharing the manatee’s love of warmth, the dolphin has also made a positive name for itself in our waters. You can often see them playing in the wake of a boat or casually swimming off the coast and in backbay waters.

Between May 31 and October 31, female sea turtles return to the sand to lay their eggs on our beaches, marking the beginning of sea turtle nesting season. This natural phenomenon is a highly delicate process, and many local organizations help to monitor and keep each nest safe. There are ways visitors and residents can help too.

The most sought-after wildlife to photograph is our abundance of migratory birds. If you’re interested in serious bird-watching, pack your camera and head to areas like J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve. You might even see bobcats and river otters patrolling the mangroves and other habitats, like nature intended.

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