The mechanisms that resuspend bottom sediments in Hillsborough Bay, a shallow, microtidal, subtropical estuary in West-central Florida, were determined by analysing hydrodynamic and suspended-solids concentration data collected during several instrument deployments made in 1990 and 1991. Large vessels in a dredged ship channel can generate forced solitary long waves that cause large water velocities and sediment resuspension at the study sites. An experiment was conducted with a trawler that resuspended bottom sediments, and some of the resuspended sediments remained in suspension for at least 8 h. A secondary impact of vessel-generated long waves and trawling is that sediments that are resuspended and newly deposited are more susceptible to resuspension by tidal currents than undisturbed bottom sediments. Natural sediment resuspension by wind waves and tidal current is less frequent or of smaller magnitude than anthropogenic sediment resuspension. The annual mass of sediment resuspended by vessel-generated long waves is estimated to be one order of magnitude greater than the annual mass of sediment resuspended by wind waves generated by winter storms.