What Makes the Matanzas River Basin Special?
The Matanzas River Basin extends from northern Flagler County (the Palm Coast area) to the city of St. Augustine in the southern part of St. Johns County. The Basin is quite broad; its backbone is the Matanzas River, flowing parallel to the Atlantic shoreline, one of many coastal marine lagoons characteristic of the southern US coastline.
The River is also an estuary. Three relatively pristine streams – Pellicer, Moses, and Moultrie Creeks – supply the Matanzas River with fresh water, while seawater enters at two historic inlets, the St. Augustine Inlet to the north, and the Matanzas Inlet to the south.
A biodiversity hotspot, the River Basin is home to a variety of biological communities and habitats. Among the estuarine communities are salt marshes, oyster reefs, and mangroves, while terrestrial communities include upland forests, maritime hammocks, coastal strands and dunes.
Beyond the exceptional quality and variety of its waters, the percentage of privately developed land in the Basin is low, and public funds have been spent generously to purchase land for conservation, recreation, parks, and important scientific facilities – like the Whitney Lab. Thus, the Matanzas River Basin is a vital resource for studying topics such as shellfish culture, invertebrate research, marine symbiosis, and promoting sealife conservation.