The area's outstanding wildlife habitats, including floodplain forest, sawgrass marshes, and pine flatwoods, support significant populations of both rare and common wildlife. The Apalachicola ecosystem supports the highest diversity of amphibians and reptiles in North America, north of Mexico, as well as the greatest number of freshwater fish species (86) in Florida.
From the wildlife viewing tower at Sand Beach, you might see bald eagles, osprey, waterfowl, wading birds, brown pelicans, red-shouldered hawks, marsh hawks, red-bellied woodpeckers, pileated woodpeckers, rails, shore birds, barred owls, swamp sparrows, and marsh wrens. If you walk along the nature trail in the adjacent maritime hammock, you will find neo-tropical birds during spring and fall migrations.
White ibis in flight
You may also observe deer, raccoons, and opossums along the nature trail. From the pier look for fiddler crabs, blue crabs, alligators, and dolphins in the bay.
During spring and fall migrations, the boat ramp sites and their associated wetland communities are good birding spots. More on birding at Apalachicola River.
Wildlife Spotlight: Apalachicola Kingsnake
© D. Bruce Means
The population of kingsnakes inhabiting the eastern Apalachicola lowlands has fewer and wider light body crossbands than neighboring populations. In an article in Contemporary Herpetology, D. Bruce Means and Kenneth L. Krysko propose that the population "evolved in isolation on a barrier island or the coastal strand of a peninsula during one of the many higher stands of the sea during the Pleistocene." They argue that light-colored patterns would have conveyed adaptive advantages on sandy coasts. The snakes would be seen less easily by predators and would be less likely to overheat on the bright white sands.