Pensacola’s Nature & Wildlife
Visitors don’t have to travel far down Pensacola and Perdido Key beaches to see the beautiful, unique wildlife that calls the Gulf Coast home.
Many species of birds call Pensacola’s beaches home. Here are just a few:
The least terns are little seabirds that defend their nests along the Gulf Coast beaches during the spring and summer months. These birds were once a threatened species but are now protected by state law, and with the help of volunteers and thoughtful visitors, along with Northwest Florida’s pristine beaches, the little birds have started to recover.
Vast colonies of least terns can be found nesting in Gulf Islands National Seashore, along Santa Rosa Island and Johnson Beach. You can find them flying solo or in pairs, and diving for fish in the waters near shore. You’ll want to stay away from clearly marked nest colonies. Some pairs will nest away from colonies, and while their nests may be hard to spot, the terns will try to defend their nest from any unwelcome visitor straying too close.
These large, graceful swimmers can be found mixing among the least tern colonies. Black Skimmers can be found soaring just above the Gulf surface, skimming for food from the waters with their beak.
Plovers and Sanderlings
These little birds can be seen darting between receding waves to catch crustaceans. The Wilson’s plover is another bird that was once a threatened species that is now slowly making a comeback.
It’s not uncommon to see squadrons of brown pelicans out and about, as well as the beautiful blue herons who wade in the shallows for fish, crabs, and lizards. Inshore you can find green herons resting on boat mooring lines, stealing fish that stray too close to the surface.
Osprey & Bald Eagles
Osprey and bald eagles have started rebounding as well, and you can find these birds circling and diving after fish in Pensacola Bay, Santa Rosa Sound, the Gulf of Mexico, and other nearby protected waters.
Green, Loggerhead, Kemp’s Ridley, and even giant Leatherback sea turtles crawl onto the shores of Pensacola and Perdido Key beaches. Here the female digs a nest near the sand dunes before crawling back to the sea just hours after laying and burying up to 130 eggs.
Around 60-80 nights later, the tiny hatchlings dig their way out of the nests and make a dash for the water under the light of the moon. Artificial lights can disorient both adult sea turtles and their hatchlings, so trained volunteers often lend a helping hand.
Any visitors who spot a turtle crawl or a disoriented sea turtle should contact Gulf Islands National Seashore.
Pensacola is full of incredible and exciting wildlife, which you can see along the beaches or even from the water. Come spend a day with us at Rock Bottom Charters and not only will you catch some great fish, but you’ll also get to see some of the fantastic local wildlife that calls Pensacola home.