Biscayne Bay, Fla., is a 428-square-mile (1,109-square-kilometer) subtropical estuarine ecosystem that includes Biscayne National Park, the largest marine park in the U.S. national park system (fig. 1). The bay began forming between 5,000 and 3,000 years ago as sea level rose and southern Florida was flooded. Throughout most of its history, the pristine waters of the bay supported abundant and diverse fauna and flora, and the bay was a nursery for the adjacent coral-reef and marine ecosystems.
In the 20th century, urbanization of the Miami-Dade County area profoundly affected the environment of the bay. Construction of powerplants, water-treatment plants, and solid-waste sites and large-scale development along the shoreline stressed the ecosystem. Biscayne National Monument was established in 1968 to ?preserve and protect for the education, inspiration, recreation and enjoyment of present and future generations a rare combination of terrestrial, marine, and amphibious life in a tropical setting of great natural beauty? (Public Law 90?606). The monument was enlarged in 1980 and designated a national park.
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USGS Numbered Series
Changing Salinity Patterns in Biscayne Bay, Florida