Incorporated in 1993, Tampa Bay Watch performs habitat restoration and protection activities throughout the year, relying heavily on the efforts of community volunteers to help the bay recover from its historic environmental problems. In 2005, Tampa Bay Watch completed construction of the marine and education center in Tierra Verde, Florida. Our programs seek to build citizen awareness, concern and participation through educational outreach. Individuals of all ages from community groups, scout troops, schools and others participate in salt marsh plantings, storm drain markings, oyster bar creation, coastal cleanups, and wildlife protection each year, demonstrating environmental stewardship in its purest form.
Since 1993, Tampa Bay Watch has contributed to the restoration of Tampa Bay estuary through our hands-on habitat restoration projects. More than 100,000 community volunteers have participated in these projects. Our non-profit organization has planted more than 1,000,000 salt marsh grasses to restore 200 acres of coastal tidal ponds to Tampa Bay order to protect and stabilize low lying coastal lands and provide protection and food sources for estuarine and coastal fishery food chains of many species of fish and marine mammals. We have installed 2,000 tons of oyster shell and created 18,000 oyster reef units to produce more than three miles of oyster shell reef communities with a goal to provide hard bottom habitats for fish and wildlife resources and promote water quality improvements in the Tampa Bay ecosystem. More than 1,659 crab traps have been removed from Tampa Bay by our staff and volunteers to reduce unnecessary entrapment and entanglement of marine creatures and reduces boating safety hazards.
The efforts of Tampa Bay Watch to restore and protect the bay's habitat through stewardship and community awareness provide effective long term improvements to the bay, and empower our community with the knowledge to counteract our environmental problems. Learning how to achieve and maintain a healthy environment is a legacy that will touch our children and their children for years to come.
In addition to the volunteer habitat restoration projects, Tampa Bay Watch has a large-scale environmental education program entitled “Estuary EDventures” in which students in grades Kindergarten through 12 throughout Tampa Bay visit the Tampa Bay Watch Marine Center for hands-on educational experiences. The mission of this program is to educate students about the Tampa Bay ecosystem while encouraging students to act as stewards of our important natural resource of Tampa Bay. This program combines classroom curriculum with hands-on environmental field sessions and service learning projects that facilitate habitat restoration in the estuary. Field trips include many activities that examine critical watershed issues and the importance of estuarine habitat in Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay Watch opened the Discovery Center at the St. Pete Pier in July 2020 with a goal to inspire visitors to become stewards of their own environment by sharing the story of the recovery and ongoing restoration of Tampa Bay. The center’s Exhibit Gallery features aquariums that showcase a variety of species found in local waters, interactive displays, video presentations, and docent-led tours. There is also a state-of-the-art classroom that hosts field trips, after-school programs, summer camps, and fun and engaging marine science public programs—there is something for everyone!
Tampa Bay is one of the only estuaries in the nation to have shown significant advancements in water quality due to the efforts of community habitat restoration projects and public infrastructure improvements. A great strength of Tampa Bay Watch is the support the organization receives from the community. Personal experience with nature builds the desire to protect nature, which is why we offer the opportunity for the bay area community to experience amazing Tampa Bay.