The Canaveral National Seashore is a 25-mile expanse of pristine Atlantic Ocean beaches, dunes, and land between Titusville and New Smyrna Beach, Florida. The Seashore was formally created in 1975 and to this day it remains as the longest undeveloped tract of land along the East coast of Florida.
At the southern tip of the Seashore is the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, encompassing the unused land, salt marshes, and ponds of the 140,000 acres acquired by NASA for the Kennedy Space Center in the early 1960's. After NASA decided what portions of the land it needed for a launch complexes and other space-related facilities, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assumed responsibility for managing the remainder of the land.
Unimproved roads on dikes meander through saltwater estuaries, freshwater impoundments, marshes, dunes, hardwood hammocks, and scrub that serve as home to a myriad of wildlife. Some of the wildlife makes the Refuge its home year round. Some are temporary residents during the winter months, either passing through on their way elsewhere or wintering within the Refuge before returning home.
Waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, eagles, ospreys, alligators, otters, bobcats, snakes, and pigs are some of the many species that can be routinely spotted while visiting the area. On a recent February morning I paid a visit to the Refuge to photograph some of the winter residents.