Apalachicola Basin

This page is designed to serve as a gateway to all of our content related to the Apalachicola River and Bay Basin. The fresh water of the Apalachicola River supports an incredible diversity of life through the creeks and sloughs it feeds as well as through seasonal flood events. The river flow pushes that water and vital nutrients into the bay and feeds what have typically been vital estuarine ecosystems and commercial fisheries. The river’s “green plume” carries nutrients into the Gulf of Mexico; within that plume spawn commercially important grouper species. At the southwestern edge of the watershed, that water reaches the Saint Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve, where it feeds dozens of rare plants growing under longleaf pine. The Buffer is also where the river had once emptied into the Gulf.  Along Florida’s coast, the watershed reaches from Indian Pass to Alligator Harbor.  Bay Mouth Bar at the mouth of Alligator Harbor contains the greatest diversity of predatory snails in the world.  Torreya trees. Tupelo honey. Endangered mussels and salamanders. And, of course, the oysters. All of it is threatened by low flows and engineering of the river channel.

Apalachicola Bay Oysters

Hanna harvesting in Apalachicola BayUntil recently, Apalachicola Bay provided 90% of Florida’s oyster harvest.  That was until the winter reefs opened in September of 2012 to reveal that the reefs had been decimated. In 2013, Dr. David Kimbro and his graduate student Hanna Garland conducted surveys and experiments to determine the cause of the oyster fishery crash. By sampling on a regular basis, they hoped to see how growth and survival of oysters changes over time and under different conditions.  Learn more about what David, Hanna, and company are doing in the bay here.

RiverTrek 2012

WFSU Producer Rob Diaz de VillegasWe joined the paddlers of RiverTrek 2012 on a five day adventure down the Apalachicola River. RiverTrek is a fundraiser to benefit the Apalachicola Riverkeeper. Riverkeeper works with officials and organizations in the three states in which the Apalachicola/ Chattachootchee/ Flint basin is contained, hoping to restore water flow to the many ecologically and economically sensitive habitats of the Apalachicola River Basin. More about RiverTrek 2012 here.

RiverTrek 2013

Kayaking Sutton LakeWe returned to the river a year later for a couple of days of RiverTrek 2013.  After a healthy wet season, we had to relocate campsites and were able to push further into the “quintessential” tupelo swamp, Sutton Lake.  While the system received much needed water, larger issues remain.

Continuing Adventures

kelli jackson kayaking dead lakesThe Apalachicola river basin is rich with biological diversity and cultural heritage. We explore floodplain forests, the Dead Lakes, and hike the lands around the river. Our adventures continue, as the Apalachicola watershed contains many tributaries, creeks, swamps, and forests, and many people have deep relationships with this land and water.

Check out our photo map of the Apalachicola Blueway Paddling Trail here.

Related Links

Apalachicola River Wildlife & Environmental Area
Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve
Apalachicola River WEA Paddling Trail System
Great Florida Birding Trail
Apalachicola National Forest
Torreya State Park
Apalachicola Bluffs & Ravines Preserve
Tate’s Hell State Forest