Sarasota County is a subtropical coastal community that offers the resources and amenities of a metropolitan community and also offers access to quality areas and recreation. Sarasota is located on the southwest gulf coast of Florida between Tampa and Fort Myers. Sarasota County waterways cover over 50 square miles, 211 miles of which are bay shoreline. These waters offer quality recreational opportunities for pleasure boating and fishing, as well as associated activities like birding and swimming. Estuaries like Sarasota Bay, where salt water from the sea meets and mixes with fresh water from rivers and uplands, are nurseries for young fish, shrimp, and crabs. Over 70 percent of all fish, shellfish, and crustaceans spend some critical stage of development in these nearshore waters, protected from larger predators that swim the open sea. Wildlife abounds along our shores. The coastal waters of Sarasota County are home to a variety of marine life, including bottlenose dolphin, loggerhead turtles, and West Indian manatees. A wide variety of shorebirds, such as the familiar Brown Pelican and majestic Great Egret, are year-round residents. Others, including sandpipers, and White Pelicans, are seasonal visitors. Sarasota County offers enjoyable activities for everyone. Anglers will find an array of game fish and crustaceans within the bays and in the Gulf of Mexico, especially at the county's numerous artificial reefs. Outdoor enthusiasts can find numerous nature-based recreational opportunities in county parks and preserve lands. Sarasota County waterways provide ample opportunities for swimming and sunning on award-winning beaches, diving on numerous artificial reefs, boating on bay and gulf waters, and canoeing and kayaking. Adjacent to the waterways are shopping areas, restaurants, cultural events, galleries, and nighttime entertainment. While the county is an interesting and exciting place to enjoy yourself, the costal habitat is an important and sensitive natural area that requires protection. By boating safely and with greater awareness of the natural environment, you can help protect Sarasota County waterways and the wildlife that depend on these waters for survival.