Tampa Bay National Estuary Program
Tampa Bay, Florida's largest open-water estuary, stretches 398 square miles at high tide. Popular for sport and recreation, the bay also supports one of the world's most productive natural systems. Estuaries like Tampa Bay, where salt water from the sea and fresh water from rivers and uplands mix, are nurseries for young fish, shrimp, and crabs. More than 70 percent of all fish, shellfish, and crustaceans spend some critical stage of their development in these nearshore waters, protected from larger predators that swim the open sea.