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Where to See Native Wildlife of Florida on Vacation

hermit crab at the beach: one of the most common wildlife of Florida

With over 700 terrestrial animals, more than 200 freshwater fish, and more than 1,000 marine fish, endless wildlife calls the Sunshine State home. You don’t have to go far to see the native wildlife of Florida when you stay with Plumlee Gulf Beach Realty. Walk to the beach from your vacation rental and discover beach inhabitants like whelks, hermit crabs, and starfish. Then, head out to nature preserves nearby and walk through scenic trails to spot even more wildlife like turtles and migratory birds. Read on to discover the best places to see wildlife near Indian Rocks Beach:

Discover Wildlife of Florida at the Beach

The most common wildlife found at the beach is also one of the hardest to spot. Please keep in mind that it is against Florida law to keep shells containing live organisms. While you are looking for shells, you may encounter several live mollusks, including:

-Fighting Conchs can be identified by the small jagged spires, whorl spines, and range of colors. These funny mollusks will reach out from their shell if you pick them up and try to slap you with their trap door. It doesn’t hurt, but it can be startling!

-Whelks are similar to conchs but have longer and thinner shells. These sea snails come in many different varieties. For example, lightning whelks are very common, and Pear whelks are harder to find because their shells are so fragile.

-Hermit Crabs are mobile home dwellers that use abandoned shells as their home. Similar to the fighting conchs, they will suddenly appear from what seems to be an empty shell just to startle a person to get you to drop it. Something sure to make kids scream, then laugh!

-Starfish are not actually fish; they are invertebrates! At our beaches, we usually see five-legged starfish in orange and pink. Read our blog, All You Need to Know About Starfish and Sea Stars, for more information.

-Sea Urchins are also invertebrates known for their round bodies and long spines. They will carry small seashells on their backs as protection from the sun, like a sun umbrella.

Where to See More Wildlife in Pinellas County

Indian Rocks Beach Nature Preserve

The Indian Rocks Beach Nature Preserve is the closest wildlife-watching area near your Plumlee vacation rental. Stroll along the boardwalk and look for birds. Then, head to the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary and learn about local rehabilitation efforts for sick, injured, and orphaned native wild birds. 

Sawgrass Lake Park

Head to St. Petersburg and visit Sawgrass Lake Park, home to one of the largest maple swamps on the Gulf Coast. Stroll along the nature trail and look for herons, egrets, ibis, wood storks, alligators, and turtles. 

George C. McGough Nature Park

George C. McGough Nature Park is just two miles from Indian Rocks Beach in Largo, known as “the turtle park.” Explore the trail following the Intracoastal Waterway and see an abundance of turtles during your exploration!

Caladesi Island State Park

Caladesi Island is an untouched island along the Gulf Coast, only accessible by boat. Paddle the mangrove tunnels around the island and view wildlife like birds, crabs, and fish. Caladesi is also part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, offering exceptional birdwatching!

Honeymoon Island State Park

Visit Honeymoon Island State Park and view wildlife like eagles, osprey, great horned owls, gopher tortoises, raccoons, and armadillos.

Sign up for an eco-tour and witness the wildlife of Florida with a local guide!

Plan Your Indian Rocks Beach, Florida Getaway

Explore the natural environments of Pinellas County and discover the wildlife of Florida during your getaway. Browse our vacation rentals in Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores and find the perfect property for your retreat. If you need assistance booking your stay, don’t hesitate to contact us at 800-926-9489. We live here and know the environment firsthand, so ask us for recommendations during your stay!