Biscayne Bay is a lagoon
A lagoon is a body of shallow sea water or brackish water separated from the sea by some form of barrier. The EU's habitat directive defines lagoons as "expanses of shallow coastal salt water, of varying salinity or water volume, wholly or partially separated from the sea by sand banks or shingle,...
that is approximately 35 miles (56 km) long and up to 8 miles (13 km) wide located on the Atlantic coast of South Florida, United States. It is usually divided for purposes of discussion and analysis into three parts: North Bay, Central Bay, and South Bay. Its area is 428 mi2. The drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...
covers 938 mi2.
North Bay lies between Miami Beach barrier island
Barrier islands, a coastal landform and a type of barrier system, are relatively narrow strips of sand that parallel the mainland coast. They usually occur in chains, consisting of anything from a few islands to more than a dozen...
from Miami on the mainland
Mainland is a name given to a large landmass in a region , or to the largest of a group of islands in an archipelago. Sometimes its residents are called "Mainlanders"...
. It has been severely affected over the last century by raw sewage
Sewage is water-carried waste, in solution or suspension, that is intended to be removed from a community. Also known as wastewater, it is more than 99% water and is characterized by volume or rate of flow, physical condition, chemical constituents and the bacteriological organisms that it contains...
releases, urban runoff, shoreline bulkheading
A bulkhead is a retaining wall, such as a bulkhead within a ship or a watershed retaining wall. It may also be used in mines, to contain flooding.Certain bulkheads, e.g., at the Hudson River are of historical and architectural value....
, dredging, the creation of artificial island
An artificial island or man-made island is an island or archipelago that has been constructed by people rather than formed by natural means...
s and the loss of natural fresh water flow into the bay. However, water quality has steadily improved since regular monitoring began in 1979. North Bay accounts for only 10% of the water area of the bay.
Central Bay is the largest part of the bay. It is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Safety Valve, a series of shallow flats separated by tidal flow channels, stretching from the south end of Key Biscayne
Key Biscayne is an island located in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States, between the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay. It is the southernmost of the barrier islands along the Atlantic coast of Florida, and lies south of Miami Beach and southeast of Miami...
to the Ragged Keys at the north end of the Florida Keys
The Florida Keys are a coral archipelago in southeast United States. They begin at the southeastern tip of the Florida peninsula, about south of Miami, and extend in a gentle arc south-southwest and then westward to Key West, the westernmost of the inhabited islands, and on to the uninhabited Dry...
. It has been adversely affected primarily by bulkheading, urban runoff discharged by canals, and the loss of natural fresh water flow.
South Bay is nearly as large as Central Bay, and is the least affected by human activities, although it also suffers from the loss of natural fresh water flow. South Bay is separated from the Straits of Florida by the northernmost of the Florida Keys, and includes Card sound and Barnes Sound. It is connected to Florida Bay
Florida Bay is the bay located between the southern end of the Florida mainland and the Florida Keys. Its area is variously stated to be , or , or . Nearly all of Florida Bay is included in Everglades National Park. The southern edge, along the Florida Keys is in the Florida Keys National Marine...
through a few small channels.
The first bridge across Biscayne Bay was the 2.5 mile wooden Collins Bridge
The Collins Bridge was a bridge that crossed Biscayne Bay between Miami and Miami Beach, Florida. At the time it was completed, it was the longest wooden bridge in the world. It was built by farmer and developer John S. Collins with financial assistance from automotive parts and racing pioneer...
built by John S. Collins
John S. Collins
John Stiles Collins was an American Quaker farmer from Moorestown Township, New Jersey who moved to southern Florida and attempted to grow vegetables and coconuts on the swampy, bug-infested stretch of land between Miami and the ocean, a barrier island which became Miami Beach.Although the farming...
and Carl G. Fisher
Carl G. Fisher
Carl Graham Fisher was an American entrepreneur. Despite having severe astigmatism, he became a seemingly tireless pioneer and promoter of the automotive, auto racing, and real estate development industries...
. The toll bridge
A toll bridge is a bridge over which traffic may pass upon payment of a toll, or fee.- History :The practice of collecting tolls on bridges probably harks back to the days of ferry crossings where people paid a fee to be ferried across stretches of water. As boats became impractical to carry large...
was "the longest wooden bridge in the world" when it was completed in 1913 at the southern terminus of the Dixie Highway
The Dixie Highway was a United States automobile highway, first planned in 1914 to connect the US Midwest with the Southern United States. It was part of the National Auto Trail system, and grew out of an earlier Miami to Montreal highway. The final result is better understood as a small network of...
. The bridge was replaced in 1925 and renamed the Venetian Causeway
The Venetian Causeway crosses Biscayne Bay between Miami on the mainland and Miami Beach on a barrier island in south Florida. The man-made Venetian Islands and non-bridge portions of the causeway were created by materials which came from the dredging of the bay. The Venetian Causeway follows the...
. The MacArthur
The General Douglas MacArthur Causeway is a six-lane causeway which connects Downtown, Miami, Florida and South Beach, Miami Beach via Biscayne Bay....
, Julia Tuttle, 79th Street and Broad
State Road 922 (Florida)
State Road 922 is a 3.6-mile east–west road built in 1951, passing through the cities of North Miami, Bay Harbor Islands, and Bal Harbour, Florida. Locally, the street is also known as North 125th Street, North Miami Boulevard, Northeast 123rd Street, Broad Causeway, 96th Street, and Kane...
causeways connect Miami to Miami Beach, and the Rickenbacker Causeway
The Rickenbacker Causeway connects Miami, Florida, United States to the barrier islands of Virginia Key and Key Biscayne across Biscayne Bay.-Background:...
connects Miami to Key Biscayne. The Card Sound Bridge
Card Sound Bridge
Card Sound Bridge is a high-rise toll causeway connecting southern Miami-Dade County and northern Monroe County. It is one of only two ways that motorists can leave or enter the Florida Keys . Toll for two-axle automobiles is USD $1.00 , and SunPass is not accepted at this toll plaza...
connects the mainland in the Homestead, Florida
Homestead is a city in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States nestled between Biscayne National Park to the east and Everglades National Park to the west. Homestead is primarily a Miami suburb and a major agricultural area....
area to the northern part of Key Largo
Key Largo is an island in the upper Florida Keys archipelago and, at long, the largest of the Keys. It is also the northernmost of the Florida Keys in Monroe County, and the northernmost of the Keys connected by U.S. Highway 1...
The bay makes up part of Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park
Biscayne National Park is a U.S. National Park located in southern Florida, due east of Homestead. The park preserves Biscayne Bay, one of the top scuba diving areas in the United States. Ninety-five percent of the park is water. In addition, the shore of the bay is the location of an extensive...
. Seven remaining houses of Biscayne Bay's Stiltsville
Stiltsville is a group of wood stilt houses located one mile south of Cape Florida on Biscayne Bay in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The structures stand on wood or reinforced concrete pilings, generally ten feet above the shallow water which varies from one to three feet deep at low...
settlement are now within the boundaries of this National Park which was established in 1980. Much of Biscayne National Park was designated as a National Monument in 1967. Card Sound and Barnes Sound lie within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. In regards to wildlife, Bottlenose Dolphin
Common Bottlenose Dolphin
Tursiops truncatus, commonly known as the Common Bottlenose Dolphin, is the most well-known species from the family Delphinidae.Common bottlenose dolphins are the most familiar dolphins due to the wide exposure they receive in captivity in marine parks, dolphinarias, in movies, and television...
s and Florida Manatees can be observed in the bay.
The bay has been known by several names. Juan Ponce de León
Juan Ponce de León
Juan Ponce de León was a Spanish explorer. He became the first Governor of Puerto Rico by appointment of the Spanish crown. He led the first European expedition to Florida, which he named...
called it Chequescha in 1513. Pedro Menéndez de Avilés
Pedro Menéndez de Avilés
Pedro Menéndez de Avilés was a Spanish admiral and explorer, best remembered for founding St. Augustine, Florida in 1565. This was the first successful Spanish foothold in La Florida and remained the most significant city in the region for several hundred years. St...
called it Tequesta in 1565. The British, during their occupation of Florida, called the bay Cape River, Dartmouth Sound, and Sandwich gulph. Hernando de Escalante Fontaneda
Hernando de Escalante Fontaneda
Hernando de Escalante Fontaneda was a Spanish shipwreck survivor who lived among the Indians of Florida for 17 years...
related that a sailor from the Bay of Biscay
Bay of Biscay
The Bay of Biscay is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea. It lies along the western coast of France from Brest south to the Spanish border, and the northern coast of Spain west to Cape Ortegal, and is named in English after the province of Biscay, in the Spanish...
called the Viscayno or Biscayno had lived on the lower east coast of Florida for a while after being shipwrecked, and a 17th century map shows a Cayo de Biscainhos, the probable origin of Key Biscayne. The bay was known as Key Biscayne Bay in the 19th century, finally shrinking to Biscayne Bay late in the 19th century.
The bay is also home to the University of Miami
University of Miami
The University of Miami is a private, non-sectarian university founded in 1925 with its main campus in Coral Gables, Florida, a medical campus in Miami city proper at Civic Center, and an oceanographic research facility on Virginia Key., the university currently enrolls 15,629 students in 12...
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science is a college and research institute for the study of oceanography and the atmospheric sciences within the University of Miami . It is located on a 16 acre campus on Virginia Key in Miami, Florida, USA...
in Virginia Key
Virginia Key is a barrier island in Miami, Florida, United States in Biscayne Bay, south of Brickell and north of Key Biscayne. It accessible from the mainland via the Rickenbacker Causeway....
(founded in 1947) and Florida International University
Florida International University
Florida International University is an American public research university in metropolitan Miami, Florida, in the United States, with its main campus in University Park...
's Biscayne Bay Campus
Biscayne Bay Campus
The Biscayne Bay Campus is a campus of Florida International University located in North Miami, Florida. It is 40 minutes away from the Modesto Madique campus...
(founded in 1977) in North Miami
North Miami, Florida
North Miami is a suburban city located in northeast Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States, about north of Miami. The city lies on Biscayne Bay and hosts the Biscayne Bay Campus of Florida International University, and the North Miami campus of Johnson & Wales University...
. It was seen in the music video for The Lonely Island
The Lonely Island
The Lonely Island is an American comedy troupe composed of Akiva "Kiv" Schaffer, Jorma "Jorm" Taccone, and David Andrew "Andy" Samberg, best known for their comedic music. Originally from Berkeley, California, the group is currently based in New York City. The group broke out due to their...
's "I'm on a Boat
I'm on a Boat
"I'm on a Boat" is a single from The Lonely Island's debut album Incredibad. It was also featured as a Saturday Night Live Digital Short. The song features R&B singer T-Pain. The song, produced by Wyshmaster, is a parody of many rap video clichés. The music video reached number one on YouTube in...
- Biscayne Bay : A Bibliography of the Marine Environment
- South Florida Water Management District: Coastal Ecosystems: Biscayne Bay - retrieved via Wayback Machine September 12, 2007
- Florida Department of Environmental Protection: Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve
- History and Ecology of Biscayne Bay
- Biscayne Bay Watershed - Florida DEP