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Terra Ceia... Tampa Bay's last undeveloped shoreline

Terra Ceia, including Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve (25,000 acres) and Terra Ceia Preserve State Park (1,900 acres), is the last undeveloped shoreline along Tampa Bay. We paddled within Bishop Harbor and Hell's Half Acre, a small portion of the total paddling available. Surrounded by mangrove and mostly shallow, the harbor is great for fishing, sightseeing, bird watching, and wildlife viewing. There is supposed to be a marked paddling trail (3-mile Bishop Harbor loop trail), but we didn't see any markers. Frog Creek is another popular paddling destination, we'll visit on another trip. (Detailed map and photos below.)



View Larger Map
Distance: Various
Location: Manatee County (Terra Ceia)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Tidal: Yes
Launch points: Bishop Harbor, Frog Creek (See map, left)
Kayak/Canoe Rentals: Frog Creek (link, above right)
Nearby points of interest: Tampa, Madira Bickel Mound State Archaeological Site

The Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve includes submerged and wetland areas including oyster bars and seagrass, and open water, bays and creeks with diverse natural communities. Archaeological evidence dates to 8,000 BC and includes the Madira Bickel Mound State Archeological Site.

Terra Ceia Preserve State Park consists of mangrove hammocks and forests, plus wetland communities. There are no restrooms or water available. Recreational activities include fishing and boating, and bird watching and nature study are popular.

Wildlife include herons, egrets, cormorants and other birds, dolphins are seen, mullet, redfish, tarpon, snook and other fish. Several species of bats are also found at Terra Ceia, important for insect control.

Paddling at Terra Ceia
(tap or hover over photo for larger view)
We paddled around Bishop Harbor and into Hells Half Acre
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Launch at Bishop Harbor
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Some canals off the harbor were narrow and twisting, leading to a lake
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A great place for bird watching!

More information on paddling at Terra Ceia (opens in a new window):

- SW Florida Water Management District - Terra Ceia Preserve State Park
- Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection - Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve

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