The Heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast boasts a rich coastal ecosystem. As you discover adventures along Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa Island take a moment to appreciate and learn about the ecosystem that surrounds you. Interesting plant life can be found on our coastal landscapes both on land and underwater.
A trip to the beaches along Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa Island and you will find an array of natural plant life to take in. Occasionally, seaweed can be found in the emerald-green water of the Gulf of Mexico. Seaweed is the underwater food chain that links together certain species of plant and marine life that are vital to the underwater ecosystem. Seaweed washes up on beaches, floats on the surface and forms beautiful pillars of wavy leaves drifting in our emerald-green waters; but it has a purpose to its journey. Queen conches, sea turtles, and various tropical fish depend on seaweed to thrive in their home environment for food and nourishment. Sea weed acts as fertilizer when washed on shore for local plant life. It also provides havens and structural materials for on shore crustaceans and even bird life along the Heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast.
Sea oats are a known staple along the dunes of the Heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast. Sea oats not only provide beauty to the natural landscape of the beach but also protect the dunes from wind and wave erosion. Their root structure is long and keep loose, fine sand firmly gripped. Sea oats are one of the only plants that can live on sand dunes because the sand is always moving but their long root system keeps them in place. Always be mindful since sea oats provide very few seeds and even less are eventually established due to foot traffic and human interaction.
High reeds and grass blades cover much of the dunes in large plots along the beach known as coastal grasslands. The natural beauty of the Gulf Bluestem, the common grass along the inner shore, scatters along the little hills and mounds of dunes that line the Emerald Coast. The Gulf Bluestem, being rare throughout Florida, gives anyone traveling to the Emerald Coast a view in how local plant life can flourish and provide a tranquil landscape. The coastal grasslands also are home to many migratory birds and shore birds that anyone can spot while strolling along the sugar-white sands of the Emerald Coast.
The Heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast is a homestead for wetlands. It's a relaxing view for many visitors who have never seen the warm, southern glow of this environment. Through nature trails, boardwalk strolls and even off the beaten path, wetlands are what houses the local plant life and wildlife along the Emerald Coast. Wetlands showcase what the Emerald Coast is all about: an ecosystem that thrives on warmth and growth. Enjoy wildlife and bird watching in wetlands that make up so much of the area along the Emerald Coast. The wetlands are truly a sanctuary for travelers to learn and experience.
Maritime hammocks are tropical retreats consisting of narrow bands of forest on the backside of the dunes. With lush vegetation and a conservatory of wildlife, maritime hammocks are the inner workings of pine, oak, and evergreen trees nurtured by the salt spray of the beach. With time, seat oats and other coastal plant life create an ecosystem of woods and brush that expand for hundreds of miles. Any nature lover will want to observe the maritime hammock setting and appreciate the natural layout of the hammocks.