Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge

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Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge

  • Country: 
    United States of America
  • Site number: 
  • Area: 
    2,203 ha
  • Designation date: 
  • Coordinates: 
    27°47'N 80°25'W
Materials presented on this website, particularly maps and territorial information, are as-is and as-available based on available data and do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area, or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.


Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge. 14/03/93; Florida, 2,203 ha; 27o47’46”N 80o25’56”. The Site lies in the Indian River Lagoon, a brackish water estuarine system that extends for over 200 km along the east coast of central Florida. Lying in a climatic zone of overlap between temperate and tropical zones its unique conditions are suitable for a large number of species, many of them threatened or endangered, from both zones. Overall the Site supports 140 bird species that use the refuge as a nesting, roosting, feeding or loafing area, as well as 18 species of mammals, 27 of reptiles and amphibians, over 300 of plants, and over 214 species of fish of which 87% are at a juvenile stage. It also serves as a nursery for species of threatened and endangered sea turtles such as the Kemp´s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), green (Chelonia mydas) and loggerhead (Caretta caretta) turtles. The site’s importance has been recognised since 1903 when it was named as the country´s first National Wildlife Refuge. Since then it has also been designated as a National Historic Landmark and a National Marine Monument. The intensive development of the surrounding area has caused soil and water contamination, pollution, erosion and habitat destruction. Furthermore, the Site has been identified as highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change such as sea level rise and more intense hurricanes. Ramsar site No. 590. Most recent RIS information: 2011.

Administrative region: 

  • National legal designation: 
    • National Historic Landmark
    • National Marine Monument
    • National Wildlife Refuge - Pelican Island
    • Wilderness Area protection
  • Last publication date: 


Ramsar Information Sheet (RIS)

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