Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Front Matter
 Back Cover

Title: A Historical Geography of Southwest Florida Waterways Volume One - Anna Maria Sound to Lemon Bay ( FLSGP-M-99-004 )
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00093670/00001
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Title: A Historical Geography of Southwest Florida Waterways Volume One - Anna Maria Sound to Lemon Bay ( FLSGP-M-99-004 )
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Antonini, G.A., D.A. Fann, and P. Roat
Publisher: Florida Sea Grant
Place of Publication: Gainesville, FL
Publication Date: 1999
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Volume ID: VID00001
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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front page 1
        Front page 2
        Page 1
    Title Page
        Page 2
    Table of Contents
        Page 3
    Front Matter
        Page 4
        Page 5
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    Back Cover
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Full Text

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A Historical Geograpby
of Southwest Floriba Waterways
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A Historical Geograpjb
of Southwest Floriba Waterways
Anna Maria SounM to Lemon Ba)

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A Historical Geograpl

of Southwest Fforiba Waterways

Anna Maria SounM to Lemon Bay

written by
Gustavo A. Antonini
David A. Fann
Paul Roat

art production by
Tom Cross, Inc.
design & Illustrations by
Patti Cross

edited by
Cathy Ciccolella & Paul Roat

Table of Contents

7 Introduction

10 Historical Development of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway
10 The Boating Geography of Southwest Florida
Before Coastal Development
12 Dredging History of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway
16 Dredging of Access Channels and
Residential Canal Development
22 Land and Water Changes Along the Waterway
28 Land Use and Land Cover Changes Along the Shoreline
29 Prominent Features of the Boating Waterfront
37 Photographic Record of Waterway Changes

46 Inlet Dynamics
46 Inlet Locations and Status
48 Inlet Features
49 Type of Inlets
50 Historical Changes

59 Altering Land and Water for Coastal Development:
Venice, Florida
59 Physical Geography
61 Land Reclamation or Waterway Navigation?
62 Changes on the Waterways and Along the Waterfront

68 Loss of Seagrasses

70 Cortez: A Working Waterfront

74 Charting Sarasota Bay
74 Historic Methods of Charting
76 Mid-20th Century
77 Charting in the 1990s
78 The Near Future

79 Glossary

80 Scientific, Technical and Boating -
Related Information on the Waterways
of Southwest Florida


This project has benefitted from the advice and gen-
erous assistance of many representatives of federal, state
and local public agencies, individuals with non-govern-
mental organizations and private citizens. Their interest
and assistance in presenting this historical geography of
Southwest Florida waterways is gratefully acknowledged.
Leonard Zobler (professor emeritus, Columbia Uni-
versity) and Will Sheftall (formerly Sea Grant agent with
Charlotte County, now natural resources agent with Leon
County) were partners in the seminal discussions that led
to combining history with cartography to describe the
changing nature of the bay's boating environment. John
McCarthy (Sarasota County Department of Parks and
Recreation) worked with Gustavo Antonini, the senior
author, on a pilot analysis of Lido Key using this approach.
Chuck Listowski (West Coast Inland Navigation District,
WCIND) offered encouragement and support to broaden
the project area to include the waters from Lower Tampa
Bay to Lemon Bay. We wish to thank Jim Cato, Director
of Florida Sea Grant, for his support of the Blueways
Archivists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) and the Library of Congress were
especially helpful with researching historic maps, charts,
aerials, and ground photographs. They include: Scott
Clark and Tyrone Holt (NOAA, Hydrographic Surveys
Branch, Data Control Section); Joan Rikon (NOAA,
National Geodetic Survey, Information Services Branch);
Robert Richardson, Deborah Lelansky and Richard Smith
(National Archives, Cartographic Branch); James Hastings
(National Archives, Still Pictures Branch); and Mary Ann
Hawkins (National Archives, Federal Records Center,
Southeast Region). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Jacksonville Office staff Tom Gaskin, Don Fore and
Louis Novak- provided references on early dredging by
the Corps in the region. Victorina Basauri (Florida Sea
Grant) assisted with this phase of the research.
Historic maps, aerials and ground photographs were
also obtained from state and local sources. They include:
Florida State Archives, Photographic Collection (Jody
Norman); Florida Department of Transportation (James
Mickler); Manatee County Records Library (Kathy
Slusser); Sarasota County Historical Resources Depart-
ment (Ann Shank); Venice Archives (Dorothy Korwek);
Ringling Museum of Art (Deborah Walk); Longboat Key
Historical Society (Ralph Hunter); Sarasota County, Soil
Conservation Service (Gary Reckner); New College,
Sarasota, Division of Natural Sciences (John Morrill); and
Charlotte Harbor Area Historical Society (U.S. Cleve-
land). Two area residents Diana Harris, Englewood,
and Jim Armstrong, Manasota Key provided histori-
cal commentaries and photo annotations.
Contemporary aerial photographs were obtained from
GEONEX, St. Petersburg, Florida, and EarthData Avia-
tion/Technologies, Hagerstown, Maryland. Ted Harris
(Florida Department of Transportation, Photogramme-
try Unit) and Evan Brown (formerly with WCIND, now
with the Sarasota County Transportation Department)
scanned the historic aerial and ground photographs.
The Florida Marine Research Institute and the South-
west Florida Water Management District provided geo-
graphic information system (GIS) coverages of seagrass
and mangrove. Thanks to Chris Friel and Steve Dicks at
the respective agencies. Florida Sea Grant cartographic

staff members Bob Swett and Charles Sidman provided
valuable technical advice in GIS analysis and mapping.
Sharon Schulte, also with Florida Sea Grant, prepared
graphics illustrating inlet dynamics and performed sup-
porting GIS analyses of Sarasota Bay depth and seagrass
A special note of thanks to Ernest Estevez (Mote Ma-
rine Laboratory, Sarasota), Jim Cato (Florida Sea Grant
Program), and Max Sheppard (University of Florida
Coastal Engineering Department) and Sam Johnston (Ed
Barber & Associates, Bradenton), who reviewed the manu-
script for technical accuracy.
The research was financed by grants from the NOAA
Coastal Services Center, Charleston, South Carolina and
the University of Florida Sea Grant Program. The West
Coast Inland Navigation District provided funds for pub-
lication of this book through the Regional Waterway Man-
agement System Program.

About the authors
Gustavo A. Antonini is a professor in Geography. Gus
received B.S., M.A., and Ph.D degrees from Columbia
University in New York City. He has been with the Uni-
versity of Florida since 1970 and is a recipient of Univer-
sity of Florida Research Achievement Award. Gus teaches
courses on remote sensing, air photo interpretation and
Prior to 1988, he worked mostly in the Caribbean and
Latin America on natural resource and watershed man-
agement issues. Since 1988, Gus has focused on Florida
coastal management and marine recreation planning as a
Sea Grant senior scientist on policy-directed research and
extension education projects dealing with boat live-
aboards, derelict vessel removal, hurricane recovery, arti-
ficial reef monitoring, anchoring, waterway management
and boat traffic evaluations.
Gus has boated in Florida for 25 years and has cruised
the Caribbean, Bahamas and U.S. eastern seaboard aboard
a Cheoy Lee Cruisaire 35, La Vida, which also serves as a
self-contained field station for the waterway research. Gus
holds a Merchant Marine Master's Ticket (100 tons), and
is a 25-year member of U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

David Fann has been a research associate with Florida
Sea Grant, University of Florida, since 1996, engaged in
field data collection, GIS analysis, quantitative analysis
and cartography. David has also created educational prod-
ucts that encourage nature-based tourism by Florida's rec-
reational boaters. He graduated from the University of
Florida, Gainesville. Before 1993, he was a technical
writer/editor in the aerospace industry. David is a life-
long resident of Florida and enjoys fishing or sailing most
saltwater regions of the state.

Paul Roat is a Florida native who has spent most of his
life on the barrier islands of Manatee and Sarasota coun-
ties. Paul graduated from the University of South Florida
with a degree in photojournalism and has spent 22 years
writing or editing community newspapers, magazines and
books. Paul works with Tom Cross, Inc., a consulting firm
specializing in environmental and marine writing and
graphics. He is news editor for the Islander Bystander, a
community newspaper based on Anna Maria Island.

A publication funded
in part by the Florida
Sea Grant Program,
pursuant to
National Oceanic
and Atmospheric
(NOAA) Grant No.
NA 76RG-0120.
The views expressed
are those of the
authors and do not
necessarily reflect
the views of
NOAA or any of
its sub-agencies.

V j National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
SCoastal Services Center
S 32234 South Hobson Avenue
,,,,o., Charleston, South Carolina 29405-2413

Sarasota Bay has been described as "Paradise Found" because of the profound natural beauty of
the system. The first explorers as well as the first European settlers of southwest Florida were
drawn to Sarasota Bay because of the diversity and abundant productivity of the region's natural
resources. These same attributes continue to draw settlers. Whether or not this dramatic area
continues to be both compelling and productive has a lot to do with our understanding of the
complexity of the Bay system and the ways in which future development can impact the natural

While portions of the Sarasota Bay system have changed little in the past 100 years, in some areas
it appears as if society's primary goal is to see how much we can change nature to meet our needs.
Massive dredging and fill projects have reshaped the land and waterways. We have made land
where nature did not, and dug waterways in areas nature picked to be seagrass beds.

A historical perspective is necessary if we are to grasp the real effects of this change, for alter-
ations of this magnitude do not happen overnight. Change occurs in seemingly little, yet irrevers-
ible steps -a dredging project this year, new waterfront lots the following year. New spoil
disposal sites are needed, the vegetation slowly changes and salinity and the natural flushing
action of the small bays are altered.

As a society, we have traditionally depended on the geographer and the anthropologist to help us
understand that which lies around us in the landscape but which is not readily observable or
comprehensible. With this book, author Gustavo Antonini, Ph.D., is giving us a telescope that
allows us to look at Sarasota Bay Past as we chart Sarasota Bay Future.

A Historical Geography of Southwest Florida Waterways, Volume One: Anna Maria Sound to
Lemon Bay is about the strong relationship between human dreams and the endlessly changing
coastal environment. Dr. Antonini unveils the complex story of the past one hundred years of
human alterations to this interesting and beautiful area. For those of us who care about the Sarasota
Bay system, the historical, environmental, cultural and geographic information provided in this
book can help us realize how the aspirations of society can impact the future of this natural
resource system. Armed with this information, citizens can do a better job of shaping a future that
includes the safeguards needed to maintain a healthy environment and growing communities.

Margaret Davidson
Director, NOAA Coastal Services Center

Linking People, Resources and Information
URL http://www.csc.noaa.gov/

National Ocean Service National Marine Fisheries Service National Weather Service
Ocean and Atmospheric Research National Environmental Satellite Data Information Service

But the pull of the Mangrove Coast is not its history, for neither the historians nor its
own people have laid claim or put great value on its past. Its attractions lie in its
intangibles: the gleam of the white sand, the softness ofsouthwest winds,
pink and turquoise sunsets, and the abiding simplicity of its people.
In some curious way, the coast has managed to retain a simplicity in standards and
outlook that seems to date back to the early days of the century or, perhaps, instinctively
to reach forward into the decades ahead of us all.

-The Mangrove Coast
KarlA. Bickel
Omni Print Media Inc.


The Sarasota Bay system barrier islands
,ld estuaries from Anna Maria Sound south
r. Lemon Bay- is perhaps the most precious
i.-wel of the southwest Florida coast. This 56-
b mile stretch of Gulf of Mexico coastline com-
prises a generally narrow and shallow string
.f bays, estuaries, lagoons, inlets and islands.
In some areas the human population
densely occupies the shore and even the wa-
rer; in others, the original occupants most
visibly shorebirds, fish, dolphins and mana-
r,.i.s are often sighted. Some areas have lush
Sass meadows and thriving mangrove islands,
II. others have barren bay bottoms and shores
I ., d-._ ed by seawalls protecting fabulously expen-
S.. I ii.d that did not even exist mere decades ago.
5Nmin.. ,- .as have shorelines and channels that have
changed little in the past 100 years, and others now
have extensive waterways created by man.

The ship's
is a statue or
carving decorating
the bow of a ship.

Aerial views
of Sarasota Bay.

The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) provides di-
rect passage through the entire Sarasota Bay system, link-
ing natural deep water sections through a series of
manmade channels, canals and cuts. The ICW was origi-
nally intended to facilitate commercial shipping to and
along the southwest Florida coast and to join the region
with the rest of the intracoastal network that now stretches
from Maine to Texas. Today, however, the vast majority of
the Gulf ICW's functionality is devoted to recreational ac-
tivities: power boating, sailing, fishing, water skiing, kayaking
and canoeing.
When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began dredg-
ing in 1890 what would eventually become the ICW, they
would hardly have imagined the ultimate extent of the
task they had commenced. Alterations to the waterway
continue today from Tampa Bay to Gasparilla Sound. The
channel, which once hopscotched from one bay to an-
other along sparsely populated mainland shores and vir-
tually deserted barrier islands, punctuated by shallows,
oyster bars, mangrove thickets and other barriers origi-
nally impassable, would eventually form a
continuously navigable waterway for sizable
.. vessels. The ICW's development paralleled
and contributed to a population boom
that remains one of the most vigorous in the
United States. Shallow parts of the estuary
- bottom were dredged and redeposited to en-
large existing islands or create new islets and
in many cases covering bay habitats. This
newly created shoreline ultimately became
highly valued waterfront home sites for thou-
sands of people. At the same time, it altered
the environmental characteristics of the es-
tuary, where the fresh water from the land
mixes with the saltwater from the sea.

Some of most compelling attractions of the region are
the bays and beaches. Sailors find the large, deep reaches
of Big Sarasota Bay a perfect "lake" for afternoon regat-
tas. Cruising mariners have safe anchorages scattered
throughout the region, and fine waterfront amenities
abound. Fishermen wade or boat to thousands of secret
holes where they catch redfish, trout, snook, tarpon and
many other species. Water skiers slalom in the protected
areas near City Island or Skiers Island. The area near Long
Bar Point in Big Sarasota Bay is ideal for canoeing and
kayaking, and the winding shore of North Casey Key and
the nearby Neville Marine Preserve offer some of the
nation's best birding.
From the vantage of the shore or a boat on the waters
of the Sarasota Bay system, the dawn sun peeks through
the trees on the mainland. During the day, the high build-
ings of Sarasota, seaside Venice and other urban areas glint
kaleidoscopically. Sunsets on the sparkling Gulf of Mexico
rival those anywhere on earth. Boaters and shore residents
appreciate the beauty of the system, but also see the ef-
fects of man's presence from waterfront development.
They have expressed a desire for further insights into the
region and for a means to share these insights with each
other and with visitors.

The Hover Arcade, at the foot of lower Main Street in
Sarasota, was built by Dr. Walter Hover and two of his
brothers in 1913. It was later purchased by the city and
housed City Hall. When Sarasota County was created in
1921, the arcade served temporarily as the courthouse. It
was destroyed in the late 1960s.

This book and the pocket guide and map, "Sarasota
Bay Blueways: Recreational Opportunities around the
Bay" provide a window to the past and present Sarasota
Bay system. Historical maps and photographs illustrate
the changes occurring from the "pre-development" pe-
riod of the late 1800s to today. The historical develop-
ment of the ICW is explored, from the first major dredg-
ing effort in 1890 to the major residence and business
developments of the 1960s and 1970s to the beach
renourishment projects of today. Prominent features of
the Sarasota Bay system from Anna Maria Island to Lemon
Bay are described in words, pictures and maps.
A chapter is devoted to inlets, their dynamics and their
importance to the bay system. Distances between these
passes that link the bays and Gulf are provided from the
mariner's perspective, as well as to offer a better under-
standing of the vital role inlets play in the estuarine envi-
A "snapshot" of land-based coastal development and
its importance to the bay system uses the city ofVenice as
an example. With more than 80 percent of the bay water
area having changed (deepened, shoaled, disappeared, etc.)
in its vicinity, Venice represents the extreme case of alter-
ing land and water for shoreline growth.

.-ortez nsning village.

John and
winter home.

...~.~d~r-~~..~*L1 A dU&?

A juxtaposition of development practices other than
Venice is provided in the working waterfront of the vil-
lage of Cortez. This area, homesteaded in the 1880s by a
group of fishermen originally from North Carolina, has
changed little in the past 100 years, and many of the
village's homes, shops and fish houses are included in the
U.S. Registry of Historic Places.
Nautical charts are important tools mariners use to
safely reach unfamiliar destinations and to find the way
home. Charting Sarasota Bay describes
histnricql qnd modern meqn, nfdeter-
m iniing .ir.I, d,-prl oiid I. r ..- . -
o....r.! i .d .c.. r, nH . . 1 ,- i ,. .I.i.i,
I r..d, l -,, d -l-,,_ d k_ I.. rI .. r ,.. ,-,,, .
_', .r .i''. ,'d o .ll id r ,r, ,_ ._:r,..i' : dprl.
...,.,,i .... ,,,_ ..C I .I F. ,i ,_d r.. rl-.,_ n ,, .d I..,
S, ...r L'. v. dprl, .. ..,d, .. ,:. ., p ,
, . l I r r

The importance ofseagrass beds and mangroves is also
discussed, and the potential seagrass coverage of 1890s
Sarasota Bay is illustrated for comparison with actual dis-
tribution today. A map also provides a look at areas of
seagrass that have suffered damage, largely from propel-
ler scarring.
The Sarasota Bay system of tomorrow? Through the
efforts of federal, state, regional and local authorities, as
well as private interests, the Sarasota Bay system is chang-
ing. The days of rampant waterfront growth through
massive dredge and fill projects have come to a halt. To-
day, we focus on improving the quality of the bay while
maintaining a delicate balance among shore development,
waterway use and environmental integrity. We have
learned that our actions on the land and water affect bay
resources; to our regret, we see that the effects are usually
adverse. A growing awareness exists among the areas resi-
dents that Paradise could easily be lost without a wide-
spread feeling of stewardship and continuing efforts to
restore and maintain the bay. Shorefront zoning changes
and regional waterway management systems are being
implemented to foster sustainable use, with the ultimate
goal of attaining that balance where nature and people
can coexist far into the future.

1 1 lil I

Venice Fishing Pier.

This is the first in a series of publications that will
cover the waterways of southwest Florida. Other publica-
tions, produced by the West Coast Inland Navigation Dis-
trict and the Florida Sea Grant Program, will explore ad-
joining waterways. These publications are in support of
the State of Florida's Blueways initiative, which is a pro-
gram to encourage stewardship of the state's recreational

Anna Maria Pier and cottages in 1924. Stretching nearly 800 feet into Tampa Bay, the
pier also served as a walkway for the two adjacent "cottages." The two cottages later fell
into disrepair and were torn down prior to the piers being rebuilt in the 1930s.

Beachcombers on Anna
Maria Island in the early

- :7[=i*;;;



The Boating Geography of Southwest Florida
Before Coastal Development

One must go back in time to 1890 to regain a sense of
the pre-development state of the waterway we refer to as
the Sarasota Bay system. At that time, this 54-mile reach
of the coast, from lower Tampa Bay to Gasparilla Sound,
enclosed three separate inland bays of varying navigabil-
ity (Map 1):
1. Big Sarasota Bay, on the north, is 21 miles long and
stretches from Palma Sola (Sarasota) Pass at the mouth of
lower Tampa Bay to Phillippi Creek (south of Sarasota);
2. Little Sarasota Bay, in the middle, is 12 miles long
and ranges from Phillippi Creek to Roberts Bay (present-
day Venice);
3. Lemon Bay, to the south, is a 16-mile-long
n>. n l-. L ,n nn. n1r -tr. .n i 11 LF 1 C i .. r,,. rl,. [ ,,: ll1 [I ''I t'. "I L
. ..,rl' .t C i r-,

Lower Tamnip3 BLa

Palma Sola
(Sarasota) Pa::,


I -

Longboal Inle

Each of these bays historically was separated from the
others through a series of natural barriers. Boat traffic
between Big and Little Sarasota Bays was impeded by "The
Mangroves," a cluster of islands at the mouth of Phillippi
Creek. The only means of traverse was a crooked, narrow
channel barely 50 feet wide and 0.3 mile long that was
mostly obstructed by mangroves. The channel was non-
navigable at low water. No inside waterway passage ex-
isted between Little Sarasota and Lemon Bays. A five-
mile land barrier existed from Roberts Bay just below
Casey's Pass to Alligator Creek, which was the head of
navigation of northern Lemon Bay.
Settlers along this coast were forced to sail the outside
p i i. I-F, r-.- .., nBig Sarasota Bay, Little Sarasota Bay and
Lnir..n Lir, i Sarasota Bay could be entered from
I ni.p i ; I, I-h, r'ma Sola (Sarasota) Pass, a natural half-
niL-,-. .. ,iJ- innel with a 4-foot controlling depth. En-
rr in, r. biz; i u'asota Bay from the Gulf of Mexico was
hf.. L..n I, I.. r inlet (300 feet wide, 5-foot depth), New
I -I r. i ..e, undetermined depth) and Big Sarasota
i i1 'i! I k>r wide, 7-foot depth). The width of Big
i i i. r i r, Ir iged between one-half and three miles.
r,'.- iln- : it'. depths in the bay were from six to 10
kt. r r .l..d p r narrow channels near the passes; six feet
pr ,- ,l.1 ..- nr d-bay shoals.

Big Sarasota
(21 miles)

i- q _

I -,

.-i i' L-- .

New Pass" ',-. *: 7

I r"lippi Ceek,
Big Sarrasota Pass 4'-

^The r langio-es

0\ \ 'l- .

Lille Sarasota PF'as s ''

"** I

Sarasota Bay
(12 miles)

/1111111111111111/111 D ona E111av

Casey s FPss R-b.-Is-cj

i Ve nic,7)

(5 miles)

?.''j7.3id L.Jk..


Lemon Bay
(16 miles)

- EncIlewiood


1 0 4 8 Miles

Sarasota Bay is an
estuary a semi-
enclosed body of
water which has free
connection with the open
sea and within which
seawater is measurably
diluted by freshwater
from land drainage."
Estuaries are among
the mostproductive of
all the earth's systems:
more than 80percent
ofalfish andshellfish
use estuaries either
as primary habitat
or as spawning or

Sig n.p Pass I/ -" L r
*, .-r
t /Tr,;- Cuiol

i~lll ;4in PJ5S

Boc ilia Pass
Ca:prorloe arbondr
Charlotte Harbor

Map 1.
Boating Geography Before Coastal Development

Mariners entered Little Sarasota Bay from the Gulf
either by Little Sarasota Pass (90 feet wide, 5-foot depth)
or Casey's Pass (90 feet wide, 3-foot depth). These passes
were subject to changes both in location and depth, and
were entirely closed for short periods. The bay's width
ranged from 300 feet to three-quarters of a mile. Depths
in Little Sarasota Bay were from 4 to 8 feet, but shoals 1
to 2 feet deep created numerous obstructions. Little
Sarasota Bay in the south broadened into two small bays,
which extended in an easterly direction. To the west was
Dona Bay, to the east Roberts Bay. Dona had a depth of
about 5 feet and Roberts from 2 to 5 feet.

--- Lemon Bay a long, narrow bay ranging from 200
feet to one mile wide was separated from the Gulf at
S its upper end by a long peninsula (Palm Key, also called
Palm Ridge), and at its lower end by a range of keys from
50 feet to one mile wide. Passage between the bay and
Gulf was available at Stump Pass, 10 miles south of Alli-
gator Creek (controlling depth from 4 to 7 feet), and at
[Big] New Pass, a half-mile south of Stump Pass (depth
of 7 to 10 feet). Periodically other inlets would be
breached, such as at [Little] New Pass, 2.5 miles from the

south end of the bay (2.5-foot depth), and at Bocilla Pass
(4-foot depth). Within Lemon Bay, depths ranged from
0.5 to 15 feet. A three-foot draft could be carried from
New Pass north to about 2.75 miles above Englewood;
from there northward to Buzzard Lake (today named Red
Lake) depths gradually shoaled to 1 foot. The southern
portion of the bay was also very shallow.
The channel connecting Lemon Bay with Gasparilla
Sound to the south was an effective barrier to navigation.
This one-mile-long channel, between 40 and 250 feet wide
and which dried at low water, was known as "The Cut-
off." An alternate connector route, sometimes available
depending on prevailing inlet openings and closings, could
be followed by using relict inlet channels leading to and
from old Bocilla Pass north to Lemon Bay and south to
Gasparilla Sound. Only light-draft vessels drawing less
than four feet made the trip from Tampa to Sarasota.
These were the general conditions that prevailed be-
fore changes were made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engi-
neers with navigation improvements as the principal goal.


Polm~ K.-

. Dredging History

. of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway


Longb3i Cul
C i i iginaJl 18 : i diedgq d ch annel
51 1 ::

S_ -"

Chn neln

Bow lee
/ Cieek

S Whi-.--kei
/ B.vou
,i /
SHog Cieekk

The region's settlers recognized the advantages afforded
by an inland navigation route in sheltered waters that
could provide safe passage to light-draft vessels unable to
withstand the battering of the open Gulf of Mexico. Such
an inside passage between Tampa Bay and Charlotte Har-
bor did not exist during the pre-development period in
the late 1800s. As coastal settlements were established,
the transport of goods and services became a high prior-
ity. Local communities requested assis-
tance from the federal government to
improve the waterways in order to
S .B u jlk h -j d n I ,,:" l p ,,,3..,,:r ..:" ,: r-
S*. r1,., r l_ ,l _, ['I rk l., I .,n l-, r
,5 I'i::i| t in iI r., ni r. r

B -.

I s' n a': ao

..- Clai.. Ba'
Fhillippi Cl-k,

T -T -r la nqies

Wrile eacr

,', .- Noih Ci-k 1896 Authorized Channel
(3 x 75)


'South Creek

Bell Point

South Flats
North Lyons
South Lyons
Lyons Bay

Venice7 \ -C-1 Connector
(9 x 100)


Lower Tampa Bay




The hydrographic charts produced by the U.S. Coast
and Geodetic Survey in 1883 provide an invaluable
baseline of information on waterway conditions in south-
west Florida. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was as-
signed responsibility for surveying and improving water-
ways judged to have national importance through the
General Survey Act of 1824 and the Rivers and Harbors
Act of 1878. In 1889 the Corps undertook the first in a
series of detailed field studies to determine the engineering
feasibility and economic justification for waterway improve-
ments. Expenditures of funds for these improvements were
I-. L. n i, lety of vessels at sea and commerce.
T I. ition of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, a 9-
f ..,r-d.* p I-y 100-foot-wide channel stretching from lower
I nip E to Charlotte Harbor, began in 1895 and was
,. .i pl.r.d in 1967. Over that span of time, dredging to
.- i.. n I.r I-ten and deepen the channel was undertaken in
p. i. i ,' .i: manner. The chronology of events is summa-
nI .1 in I l-ile 1 and illustrated in Map 2. The objective of
rli. iin lr, dredging was to provide a 5-foot-deep by 100-
f., r-'. id.. channel between Tampa Bay and Sarasota. Cuts
. i. ni, i1. it "The Bulkhead" at Lower Tampa Bay and at
iL. n i- r in, 1895 (the latter segment was realigned in 1919
r .., .n i.r ni to the present route of the waterway).
T I ..*,)nd stage of dredging, which created a 3-foot-
I. p I-,, .-foot-wide channel from Sarasota to Venice,
I-,. in in I s96 and took more than 10 years to complete.
I-k I drdged "cuts," where the existing water depths
.. 1, K. r i m the project depth were, from north to south,
C I ni. i i- The Mangroves, Stickneys, White Beach, Oys-
rr [ I-, I nd 2, North Creek, Blackburn, South Creek,
D[1I '..-nr South Flats, North Lyons, South Lyons and
L,-n, B (Map 2). The major impediment to naviga-
r,..n .*, one-third-mile-long shoal at the mouth of
pl-illippi Creek.





Red Lake

Note: (9 x 100) = Channel dredged to 9-foot depth and 100-foot width


W ^kB^ E

Lemon B.v
: 11:11:1 1


, ,

t 0 4 8 Miles
,I I

Chrl loile H.1 bor

Map 2.
Dredging History of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway

Table 1.


Historical Synopsis of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Southwest Florida

1895 First federal intracoastal navigation project in southwest Florida; Congress appropriated $5,000 for dredging a 5-foot-deep by
100-foot-wide channel to run south from Tampa Bay to Sarasota Bay.

1896 Modification of initial Sarasota Bay project extended an improved channel 3 feet deep by 75 feet wide south to Casey' s Pass.

1907 Project extended further to Venice.

1917 By this year, two-thirds of the 3,841 tons (brick, canned goods, groceries, cement, corn, feed, fertilizer, fish, flour, grain and hay,
ice, lumber, refined oils, shingles and miscellaneous merchandise) transported on this waterway moved between Sarasota and

1919 Congress provided for a relocated 7-foot-deep channel above Sarasota.

1939 Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors recommended an intracoastal project, 9 feet deep by 100 feet wide, reaching from
the Caloosahatchee River (Ft. Myers) north to the Anclote River (Tarpon Springs). World War II delayed funding until 1945

1945 Congress authorizes and funds a deepened and widened Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

1948 Modifying legislation revised cost-sharing arrangements between the federal government and local interests; alternate route

1959 Terms of local compliance resolved.

1960 Dredging begins on C-1 alternate route, five-mile alternate passageway inland of the city of Venice, connecting Lemon Bay with
the original route north of Venice to Sarasota.

1962 Channel deepened (9 feet deep by 100 feet wide): dredge begins at "The Bulkhead" (lower Tampa Bay) and works southward,
completes improvements to Venice in 1965.

1964 Channel improvement of Intracoastal Waterway begins in Gasparilla Sound; dredge completes 9-foot-deep by 100-foot-wide
channel through Lemon Bay to Red Lake by 1965.

1967 Dredging is completed on the C-1 route between Red Lake and Roberts Bay.

Except for stabilizing the
inlet at Venice, very few addi-
tional waterway improvements
were made during the period
between the World Wars. The
Board of Engineers for Rivers
and Harbors did recommend
9-foot-deep by 100-foot-wide im-
proved Intracoastal Waterway f ,
the Florida west coast in 1939, bu.r i "-
funds were not authorized urnl .
A second dredging period, be ',. n
in 1962, created the Gulf Intraco idr i I
Waterway as it presently exists. T., 1
dredges and crews operated conc..r- -
rently. One dredge began at "The B., II..-
head" at South Tampa Bay and v i-rl...
southward to complete improven. n r r..
Venice in 1965; the other dredge -.....1l
northward from Gasparilla s ..... ld
through Lemon Bay, reaching R>.1 L ..,
by 1965. The five-mile connector c- n. I \
linking Red Lake and Venice was i. .ni pl. r.
in 1967.
A West Coast Inland Navigari. .n ELI -
trict (WCIND) was created in !"- I-,
the Florida Legislature as a speci1 r ..- G
ing authority to maintain the v r,- /
way right of way. The WCIND or / -
nally encompassed the counties. t ,
Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Cl- t
lotte and Lee, but Pinellas drop, d
out of the District in the 1970s. T I
District's mandate over the years I ,
been broadened to include other .
terway management functions, such as deal-
ing with anchorages, boat traffic, inlets and beaches.
After 75 years of sporadic waterway improvements,
an inland passage was finally achieved, permitting safe
navigation between Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor
through the sheltered waters of Lemon Bay and Little
and Big Sarasota Bays. Though the original concept was
to create a commercial water thoroughfare for passengers,
goods and services, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in this
region of southwest Florida has helped stimulate a regional
transportation infrastructure investment.



- -


Dredging of Access Channels
and Residential Canal Development

As the main intracoastal waterway channel was im-
proved to connect lower Tampa Bay and Sarasota, little
time was wasted before local land-development interests
learned that dredging could create valuable waterfront
home sites. Earliest dredge-and-fill work occurred in the
pre-World War I years on the mainland in Sarasota, on
Phillippi Creek, from Post Office Point to Hudson Bayou,
Cedar Point, Stephens Point and on north Sarasota (Si-
esta) Key at Bayou Louise and Bayou Hansen (Map 3).


A second phase of activity, during the land boom of
the 1920s, was associated with Calvin Payne and John
Ringling, who transformed the barrier islands between
Big Sarasota Pass and New Pass. Payne had the channel at
New Pass dredged, creating City Island in the process;
the deep-water harbor on the mainland (due east of the
pass) was created to accommodate Sarasota's growing
marine industry. Known as Payne's Terminal, this facility
has housed boat construction and maintenance yards, pro-
vided fuel sales and served the boating public for decades.


Sc Kooi





* Bulkhead


Key .












E / Creek

Minnie's Ford



0 to 3 feet
>3 to 6 feet
>6 feet

Note: The Pre-Development map shows the spelling
of the historic names of the Sarasota Bay system.

Map 3.
Waterway Conditions for the Pre-Development (1890) and
Contemporary (1990) Periods
(Map 3 continued on pages 18 and 19)



Wh,, ens

Ter nnal


St. Arn,. n.jr,

Big S.3r.'iOl.c

I Foini

The ^





Bird Island
^-^ ^


Bird / /


Bay % :



North (Closed)


C-- reek


- Salt Creek




Shakett Creek

C -, Curry Creek




S Red

_---Alligator Creek


- Creek




- Alligator Creek

__ Forked Creek


- Englewood

- Englewood

Gottfried Creek

-- Oyster Creek

SCrooked Creek

_ Grove City

-- Buck Creek


SOyster Creek

Buck Creek

Buck Creek

0 to 3 feet
>3 to 6 feet
>6 feet

'%The Cutoff

Map 3.
Waterway Conditions for the
Pre-Development (1890) and Contemporary (1990) Periods
(Map 3 continued from pages 16 and 17)





_ Forked Creek

Siesta Key 1940 Siesta Key 1995

Map 5.
Proposed Development of Otter Key, 1971

The third, and by far the most extensive, phase of resi-
dential canal development, began in 1945 after World
War II, accelerating in the 1950s and 1960s. Grand Ca-
nal, a 10-mile-long waterway system on Siesta Key, was
created early in this period. Dredging on Curry Creek by
the U.S. 41 bridge began in the 1940s as well. In the
early and mid-1950s canal construction in the Grove City
area was underway, and north Longboat Key was being
dredged. Bimini Bay on north Anna Maria Island was
deepened in the early 1960s, and the canal community
of Key Royale transformed the former School Key. By
1969, work on the South Creek and Grand Canal (Siesta
Key) systems appears to have been completed.
A major residential waterfront development of the
1960s was financed by the Arvida Corporation, which
purchased the southern half of Longboat Key, most of
Lido and all of Bird, Otter and Coon Keys from the
Ringling estate for $13.5 million. Bird Key was trans-
formed into a waterfront community with five miles of
interconnected canals; eight miles of residential canals and
basins were dredged on south Longboat Key. In 1971,
Arvida proposed an exclusive development on Otter Key
(Map 5), but that effort failed and Sarasota Countyin 1974
purchased the land, including South Lido, and created a public
park there. Otter Key has been left undisturbed.
By the early 1970s, public concern about this form of
dredge-and-fill coastal development prompted legislation
to control dredging and protect the environment. In 1972,
Congress enacted the Clean Water Act, which effectively
put a halt to dredge-and-fill activities and alteration of
bay habitat. However, by that time approximately 26 per-
cent of mangroves and 92 percent of salt marsh had been
lost in the Sarasota Bay system.

Longboat Pass

at. Armanas ana Lilo Keys in miagrouna,
Coon Key (lower right) and Otter Key (lower left).


Land and Water Changes
Along the Waterway

Map 3 presents land and water conditions before
dredging occurred. The year 1890 is used as the "pre-
development" benchmark year; modern times are in the
1990s. Shoreline and water depths are rendered based on
the earliest coast surveys (for pre-development times) and
the latest bathymetric surveys and studies (for contem-
porary conditions). Comparisons between these differ-
ent eras are possible since large-scale, detailed maps and
charts are available for each.
Bathymetry obtained from pre-development charts is
relative to a datum of "mean low water" the average of
all low tides occurring over an observed period. Modern
depths were derived from a nautical chart that uses a da-
tum of "mean lower low water" the average of the lower
of two low tides occurring each day where tides are semi-
Anna Maria diurnal, as in the Sarasota Bay system. The difference be-
Sound tween the two datums is approximately 0.3 feet along
This coastline. It would be necessary to subtract 0.3 feet
from the modern depths to make the old and new
Sarasota Bay bathymetry data directly comparable. This small
difference within the one-foot resolution of both
pre-development and modem surveys -was ignored
., in the depth change analysis presented.

Sarasota Bay

Map 6.
Waterway Change Analysis:
Part 1

For map comparisons between eras, water depths are
categorized as:
o Intertidal (uncovered at low tide)
o Zero to 3 feet
o Greater than 3 feet to 6 feet
o Greater than 6 feet
The category "land" comprises the mapped barrier is-
lands and other islands, but also an arbitrary distance in-
land for the mainland. (Therefore, percentage changes
between eras were calculated based on water area; the pre-
development era water area was consistently used as the
basis for such analyses.) Place names may be pre-develop-
ment (no longer used) contemporary (only today), or
common to both periods.

Sarasota Bay


W 1990s Shoreline
Deepening Water
Land to Water
No Change

Shoaling Water
- Water to Land
Boating Region Boundary


W1 0 1E
1 0 1

Sarasota Bay

Roberts Bay


2 Miles

Map 6.
Waterway Change Analysis:
Part 2






These maps add geographic detail to trace and inter-
pret the evolution of the waterways from pre-develop-
ment to modern times.
Map 6 presents a synthesis of the depth changes that
have occurred in water areas during the past 100 years in
these categories:
o Deepening water
o Pre-development (1890) land to (1990s) water
o No change
o Shoaling water
o Pre-development (1890) water to (1990s) land
o "Spoil," which may represent either shoaling of
water or change of water to land
The 1990s shoreline is shown for orientation. The
difference between the 1990s Gulf Coast shore-
line and the western edge of the map-colored
symbol (1890 shoreline) may be considered as
a seaward accretion in the barrier island land
area and is shown in white (no color) within
the area bounded by the 1990s shoreline.
This is especially noticeable at Anna Maria
Island and Siesta Key.
Bac The map categories "deepening wa-
Bay ter" and "land to water" may be the re-
sult of either dredging or the natural
process of erosion. Similarly, "shoal-
ing water" and "water-to-land" cat-
egories may be products of filling
or the natural process of deposi-
tion. Spoil occurs where
dredged material is deposited.


The fish house Spur was laid out by the United States and West Indies
Railroad immediately after it brought its main tracks into Sarasota in 1903.
The Spur was put down west on Strawberry Avenue across Gulf Stream
Avenue out onto a dock.
Map 6.
Waterway Change Analysis.
Part 3

Lemon Bay

-- .,m


Lemon Bay

The distinction between dredge-and-fill and naturally
occurring erosion/deposition in some cases may be obvi-
ous, as in the dredge-and-fill examples of north Anna
Maria Island by Bimini Bay and School Key (today Key
Royale), Stephens Point and the downtown Sarasota main-
land, City Island adjoining New Pass, Bird Key, Grand
Canal on Siesta Key and the main channel of the Gulf
Intracoastal Waterway.
The naturally occurring processes of erosion and depo-
sition associated with longshore drift are most commonly
found near tidal inlets such as at Longboat Pass, New
Pass, Big Sarasota Pass and Stump Pass. Jetties have been
installed at Venice Inlet in an attempt to reduce the natu-
ral process of shoaling at the inlet mouth. However, the
spoil sites adjoining the inlet and the difference between
the present shoreline and the historic barrier island area
attest to the deposition of sediments by longshore drift at
this Gulf Coast location.

I/ 1990s Shoreline
Deepening Water
Land to Water
No Change
Shoaling Water
Water to Land

Boating Region Boundary

0 1

Map 6.
Waterway Change Analysis:
Part 4

Ill wAOd

F'P a

2 Miles


m Iiii

No Change

Water to
Anna Maria

Deepening Shoaling
Water Water
19% 17%


No Change
f --.=,--

Water to Deepening
Land Water
7% 14%

Land to


No Change Sarasota Bay

Water to Dee:.-......-,j l-
Land W -. ,

No Change
f ~

Roberts Bay

Water to
Water to Deepening
6% Water

Little Sarasota Bay

1 .

Blackburn Bay

No Change

Water to

No Change


Water to

Deepening Shoaling
Water Water
15% 22%

(Percentage Basis: Pre-Development Era
Water Area per Boating Region)

Lemon Bay

No Change

Water to
Land Deepening
9% Water

Land to
I 11%


3 0 3 6 Miles

Map 7.
Summary of Depth Changes

by Boating Regions

Land to


Land to


Land to



Mangrove and Saltwater Marsh Area Bordering the
Sarasota Bay System: Pre-Development Era and 1990s

Pre-Development* 1990s** Change

Mangrove 4.2 sq. mi. 3.1 sq. mi. 26-percent decrease

Salt marsh 1.8 sq. mi. 0.15 sq. mi. 92-percent decrease
*U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, T-Sheets No. 1517a, 1517b, 1518a, 1518b
**Southwest Florida Water Management District, 1994

Pre-Development Era Land
Use Land Cover

I1- .I iI

10. New Pass is believed to have been created by the
hurricane of 1848 and named by pioneer William
Whitaker. A channel was dredged in the 1920s from New
Pass to Payne Terminal. Although the channel quickly
filled in, the spoil removed during the dredging created
City Island.

The following excerpts from historical documents tell
the story of the dredging of New Pass.
"Sarasotans were not satisfied with a seven-foot-deep
channel into New Pass and decided a deep-water chan-
nel was needed for the city to really expand. In a special
election Jan. 12, 1926, Sarasotans agreed to sell the mu-
nicipal power plant to Florida Power & Light for $1 mil-
lion. The proceeds went to R.A. Perry of United Dredg-
ing Co. of Tampa, to dredge a 10-foot channel through
New Pass to Payne Terminal, now Centennial Park, at
10th Street."

Land Use Land Cover


f- 4

Land Use Land Cover
S Urban & Built-Up'
1 Agriculture
Shrub. Brushland. Rangeland
1 Upland Forest
I= Wetlands
Barren Land
Major Road
No Pre-Development Era
LULC Data (Approx. Boundary)
'Towns and Homesteads in
Pre-Development Era

L :,rir:
P i--



k -'l l V'JI n.ilr I
-B7an Wtn irl

P6n1l'Op 5 WI I.^' I




I i Dunhrilr

- ,:Wall.ce LO.1J.

VV.'-I il[or

k"li11['4,1[ ,

I-, irnl

[9% F


MAP 8.
Land Use and Land Cover Changes:
Part 1

10 1 2 3


.. t in' V' I V h.i I

-' : *I I *:


Pre-Development Era Land Use/
Land Cover

F'i 'I

I I"~~

ji n .I


Pass A

1 R"t0

As the old Sarasota Times reported:
"A huge dredge, with a capacity of 1,000
cubic yards an hour, is digging a chan-
1990S nel through New Pass. Within eight
Land Use/Land Cover months Sarasota will have one of the fin-
est deep-water ports on the Gulf of
Mexico. The city then will be in a posi-
tion to bid for some of the big steam-
ship business of companies operating
vessels to all parts of the world."
From the book Story ofSarasota: "The
harbor expert who drafted plans for the
port, and advocated the New Pass en-
trance, was Col. J.M. Braxton of Jack-
sonville. Old-timers who knew the coast
and were familiar with Gulf currents
warned Braxton time and again that the
New Pass entrance and channel eastward
to the mainland were impractical that
shifting sands, carried by currents, would
Still up the pass and harbor as sure as fate
Winless long jetties were built into the Gulf
mnd Bay. Braxton brushed their arguments
a iide who were they to argue with him, a
Srmer government engineer?
"The logic of the old-timers' reasoning
di.ln't change the minds of the starry-eyed
Sprimists, mostly newcomers, who then ruled
rth city. They envisioned Sarasota as another
31 L. Angeles and they were determined that
I big league harbor must be built, willy-nilly,
curri ents or no currents.
By autumn of 1926, the dredging was prac-
rc i: lly completed, a 58-acre 'city island' was re
ar. it the east end of New Pass and bulkheads
v..,ri constructed. On Friday, March 18, 1927,
n '. .,ean-going' ship crept cautiously through
rlt p Lss and anchored at Payne Terminal. But
.- I i r ship! It was only 100 feet long and drew
,1111, feet of water: the 'City of Everglades,' of
rlk, C( .Ilier Line."
Bur railroads, trucks and the silted channel
d, dnd the $1-million deep-water port, and no
i.. ,. rl min 50 tons of freight ever came through it.
And .- the pass did eventually fill in with sand.

I I New Pass Bridge was first built in 1927 and
I nl.. .1 L ido Shores to Longboat Key. The bridge was
,- pl i,,. n the 1980s after years of debate on its sit-
In i n. I-. ight. The current bridge is a bascule draw-
1- i,,-i;. d-ign with a center clearance of 23 feet.

12. P'., ,e Terminal was created by Calvin Payne
n, rlk, I'' 2)s to accommodate Sarasota's marine in-
d,,r, A dtep-water harbor, fuel sales and facilities for
I-,. -. -"ri. action and maintenance served the boating
p, I-h,_-l t1 ,i ,cades. The area at 10th Street and U.S. 41
V 1- 1.. .1 t, spoil site in the 1960s, when silt dredged
-.n, 1-. lr il..er Bayou was placed there. The area was
r,,n,d nr,. public boat ramp in the mid-1980. The
,r- nrC, ri nnial Park provides deepwater passage into
i, 5 ',.r m a.. '[ ay; a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary station on
rh, .. orh b i,1.. of the boat basin offers boating instruction.

13. Lido Key was created in the 1920s from fill
dredged around the former Cerol Isles, as discussed
elsewhere in this chapter. Several homes were built
on St. Armands, a bathing pavilion was built on Lido
in 1940 and construction of a hotel, the Ritz-Carlton,
was begun on Longboat Key.

14. Bird Key originally was a small island on which
the first home was built in 1914. John Ringling dredged
and filled an extension of the island northward in 1926
to connect to the causeway he built from the mainland
to Lido Key. The present Bird Key development was
IeH dredged to its present size in 1959.

15. South Lido was homesteaded by Otto Schmidt
Zoldan (Otto Smith) in the early 1900s. He operated a
Smotor-launch charter business and advertised locally to
... take a trip to the Gulf in the launch 'Ada,' reason-
able rates for parties to any part of the bay." Newspaper
ln accounts confirm that passengers "... chartered the launch
'Ada,' with Captain Otto Smith in command, and were
soon speeding down Sarasota Bay." This prime location
Englewood changed ownership several times, in the process being
held by the Ringling family and Arvida Corporation (re-
Englewood 3 sponsible for developments on Bird Key and Longboat
Inn Key during the 1960s and 1970s). In 1974, Sarasota
County purchased the land and created South Lido Park.

16. South Lido Park contains 100 acres bordered by
glewood the Gulf of Mexico, Sarasota Bay and Big Sarasota Pass.
Goals established for this park are to provide, protect
er and maintain a high-quality, environmentally sensitive
area and open space that serves passive recreational needs
of county residents and visitors. The park has a number
S' of pristine habitats, now becoming extremely limited else-
I where in the Sarasota area. Brushy Bayou, in the center
of the park, is a unique estuarine environment of excep-
^ tional diversity; the presence of certain species of marine
life reflects its healthy ecosystem. Park users may enjoy
Bathing in the Gulf and Big Pass, picnicking in the
Wooded areas and hiking, bird watching and canoeing in
the Brushy Bayou area.

Grove Cty Land Use/Land Cover
Urban & Built-Up*
Sturrp Shrub, Brushland, Rangeland
Pass 49 Upland Forest
Barren Land
Major Road
No Pre-Development Era
f LULC Data (Approx. Boundary)
Towns and Homesteads in
Pre-Development Era

MAP 8. 1 0 1 2 3
Land Use and Land Cover Changes: Mils
Part 2 Miles



1. North

2. South
Sector of Big
.Sarasota Bay

3. Otter,
St. Armands, and
Lido Keys

5. North Siesta
Key and Grand

4. Sarasota Bayfront,
Ringling Causeway, and
Bird Key

Roberts Bay

7. Dredge "Charleston"

8. Dredge ar
Spoil Site


10. Intracoastal
Dredging and
Residential Waterway

3 0 3 6 Miles

Conditions at
Leachs Key, Lemon Bay

12. Intracoastal
Dredging and Landfill at
Tom Adams Bridge,
Map 9.
Dredge-and-Fill Pholograph Localions
along Ihe Gull Inlracoaslal Walerway

gure 1. 1998 Aerial view of North Longboat Key

Photographic Record
of Waterway Changes

1. North Longboat Key. Aerials show 1998 (color)
and 1940 (black-and-white) conditions. These photo-
graphs illustrate both naturally occurring and human-
induced changes in the waterways. Longbar Cut (a),
dredged five feet deep by 100 feet wide by the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers in 1890, is still clearly visible in 1940,
but more diffuse today. The present channel (b), dredged
in 1919 to nine feet by 100 feet wide, shows as a strik-
ingly demarcated dark-tone (deep water) zone in 1940.
The dredged material, called spoil (c), was placed side-
cast and parallel to the channel, creating a linear north-
west-southeast trending extension to Sister Keys, where
upland exotic vegetation, such as Australian pine, is now
the predominant cover.
The dredging, both at Longbar Cut and along the
relocated Intracoastal Waterway channel, removed
seagrass habitat. A side channel at (d), which served to
connect Longboat Inlet channel to the ICW in the early
1900s, has shoaled and no longer exists. Jewfish Key (e)
and Picket Key (f), which appear on 19th-century charts,
remained as individual islands in 1940, although a build
up of sediment was taking place (white tone in photo),
in part due to the islands' location by the inlet and to
nearby dredging. Today, these islands are one feature (ef).
The striking changes in the size and shape of the north
end of Longboat Key (g) and the south end of Bradenton
Beach (h) are due to erosion and deposition of sediments
at Longboat Inlet. The south end of Bradenton Beach also
was artificially filled to provide a foundation for the bridge
at Longboat Inlet. Beach renourishment commenced in
1992-93 along much of the Bradenton Beach-Holmes
Beach shore.


3. Otter Key, St. Armands and Lido Key: Late-1920s
dredge-and-fill and land clearance. Figure 3A is a high,
oblique black-and-white aerial taken during the same
period as the one of South Big Sarasota Bay (Figure 2
on previous page). St. Armands (a) is under develop-
ment (smoke from land clearance). New Pass (b) has
been dredged and the spoil, side-cast from the dredge,
has formed City Island (c). A causeway (d) has been
built from dredging the bay bottom along the north
shore of St. Armands. The dredge used by the develop-
ers, John Ringling and Owen Burns, is moored off the
south shore of Otter Key (e). The entire area between
Otter Key and Lido Key (f) has been dredged to create
fill for waterfront development. Figures 3B and 3C are
vertical black-and-white aerial enlargements, taken in
1948, which show remnant dredged scars (g) in the bay

Figure 3A. 1920s Otter Key, St. Armands and Lido Key


Figure 4. 1960 aerial of Sarasota Bayfront, Ringling Causeway and Bird Key


4. Sarasota Bayfront, Ringling Causeway and Bird Key.
High, oblique black-and-white aerial photography taken
in June 1960. Bird Key (a), midground, was filled to its
present size in 1959 by dredging the bay bottom. The
new Ringling Causeway Bridge (b) was opened in 1959.
The Sarasota bayfront (c) was dredged and filled and U.S.
41 was re-routed along the shoreline. This photo predates
Island Park and Marina Jack.

5. North Siesta Key and Grand Canal. Aerials show
1995 (color) and 1945 (black-and-white) conditions.
Beach ridges (a) are clearly visible on the 1945 photo;
they mark former beach deposits along the Gulf shore.
The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (b), marked by the dark
tone and parallel white border areas in 1995, did not ex-
ist in 1945. Shoreline residential developments (c), the
product of dredge-and-fill, were created after 1945. The
creation of the Grand Canal, an extensive waterfront canal
community on Siesta Key (d), had begun in 1945; the feeder
canal and inner loop had been dredged, but work was still
progressing at the mouth and apparently no water connec-
tion had yet been excavated to deep water. Residential de-
velopment on Siesta Key in 1945 (e) was limited to scat-
tered beach cottages along the Gulf shore.

Figure 5. North Siesta Key and Grand Canal


e -:a . ... ...... ... . = ........
i d- :
17rj A

Hgure 6. Hoberts bay

Figure 7. Dredge "Charleston"


6. Roberts Bay. Low, oblique black-and-white aerial
shows 1962-65 conditions. Phillippi Creek is in the
foreground. The 9-foot-deep by 100-foot-wide Gulf
Intracoastal Waterway has cut through "The Mangroves"
(a), a tidal delta deposit where the creek flowed out into
Roberts Bay. Spoil, consisting of bay bottom sediments
dredged along the waterway, has been deposited at mid-
bay locations (b). Landfill on Siesta Key (c) was for resi-
dential development. Bird Key is under construction (d)
in the background.

7. Dredge "Charleston." This equipment was used
beginning in August 1966 to excavate the C-1 connector
canal, which linked the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway at
Roberts Bay (Venice) with Red Lake at the north end of
Lemon Bay.

8. Dredge and spoil site. Near-vertical aerial view south
of Alligator Creek, Lemon Bay, 1965. Dredge (a) is oper-
ating in the long, narrow waterway separating the main-
land from Manasota Key. Suction dredge is transferring
slurry by pipeline to upland sites (b).



2' : .
-ba- "-a-

S.. a-
44t ^


-igure Y. Uredge and dike

9. Dredge and dike. Low, oblique aerial view north
from Manasota Beach, taken circa 1964-65. Manasota
Key Bridge is in the midground. This photo shows dredge
(a), pipeline (b), dike or containment wall (c) and back-
filled/spoil (d). This phase of dredging the Intracoastal
Waterway, with the use of back-filling land along the
shoreline, differed from the early dredging where spoil
was side-cast in strips or islands parallel to the route taken
by the dredge.

10. Intracoastal dredging and residential waterway
development. Near-vertical aerial shows a location at the
junction of the Intracoastal Waterway and Forked Creek
(bottom of photo), north Lemon Bay, 1964-65. A diked
area (a) for containing spoil (b) from the dredging of the
ICW is along the bayfront of Manasota Key (formerly
Palm Ridge). A residential canal (c), constructed near the
mouth of Forked Creek, occupies a natural drainage chan-
nel (d). Only a few waterfront homes have been built; the
photo shows many empty lots.

Figure 10. Intracoastal dredging and waterway development
Figure 10. Intracoastal dredging and waterway development



Figure 11. Natural and spoil-altered conditions at Leachs Key, Lemon Bay
11. Natural and spoil-altered conditions at Leachs Key,
SLemon Bay. Low, oblique aerials, taken in 1965, show
the effects of spoil deposition on shallow water and inter-
tidal habitats. The aerial at left is of the site before spoil
deposition occurred. In the photo at right, the dredge (a)
is operating in the Intracoastal Waterway channel, using
a floating pipeline (b) to transport the slurry to a water-
front site where deposition is filling in the area between
Leachs Key and Manasota Key (c).

12. Intracoastal dredging and landfill at Tom Adams
Bridge, Englewood. The Intracoastal Waterway (a) was
dredged through extensive seagrass beds, and spoil was de-
posited on several mid-bay islands. The causeway (b) con-
necting the mainland with Englewood Beach is built on
spoil landfill. Wetlands have been ditched (c) for drainage
.,, and mosquito control.

13. "The Cutoff" at Placida. This high, oblique aerial
shows waterway conditions before dredging occurred. The
Cutoff (a), about one mile long, bared at low water. Ac-
cess to Don Pedro Island from the mainland was at point
(b), approximately the location of the present-day car ferry.
A relict channel (c) from Bocilla Pass has been diked and
Figure 12. land clearance is underway.
Intracoastal dredging and landfill at Tom Adams Bridge, Englewood


The past 100 years witnessed the creation of a navi-
gable waterway system in the Sarasota Bay region. The
Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, designed to improve coastal
....... ... navigation for safety and commerce, served as a catalyst
to spark shorefront land development. Access channels
-C were dredged, bayfront property was filled and finger ca-
nals and basins were cut to extend available waterfront
for residential purposes.
Today, the area includes the 45-mile-long ICW arte-
',,. rial, some 75 miles of collector (access) channels and 180
miles of residential canals and basins. The inland water-
way has helped transform the region's physical landscape
9 -. and local economy in many ways.


Figure 13. "The Cutoff" at Placida

Tidal inlets Floridians sometimes call
them passes are highly dynamic and vis-
ible features of Southwest Florida's geogra-
phy. Inlets provide strategic points of entry and
egress between the Gulf of Mexico and the in-
land waterways, but can be intimidating to navi-
gate because of their shifting nature, strong ebb and
flood currents and wave action including breakers,
which may extend clear across the inlet mouth even in a
buoyed channel.
Waves propagating into an opposing current experi-
ence an increase in height and a decrease in length, re-
sulting in steeper waves that are more difficult to navi-
gate. Offshore shoals continually shift because of the mov-
ing beach sand, and it is sometimes not feasible to keep
buoys in the best water. Local boaters, under such condi-
tions, often leave the buoyed channel guided by their
knowledge of local conditions and of the dynamic his-
tory of inlet development, which enables them to pick
the best depth and avoid uncharted obstructions.
An understanding of why inlets develop their distinc-
tive forms, coupled with a knowledge of inlet history, is a
are useful tool that can aid the eco-tourist mariner to
fathom the behavior and navigable condition of inlets.

a. Gulf of Mexico (Outside) Route to Inlet (Sea Buoy) Entrance
(Distances in Statute Miles)
Pass/Inlet Longboat New Big Sarasota Venice Stump
Longboat 11.3 15.3 28.0 46.0
New 11.3 4.0 16.7 34.7
Big Sarasota 15.3 4.0 12.7 30.7
Venice 28.0 16.7 12.7 18.0
Stump 46.0 34.7 30.7 18.0

b. Intracoastal Waterway (Inside)
Route to Inlet Access Channel (Distances in Statute Miles)
Pass/Inlet Longboat New Big Sarasota Venice Stump
Longboat 11.6 13.6 28.6 45.9
New 11.6 2.0 17.0 34.3
Big Sarasota 13.6 2.0 15.0 32.3
Venice 28.6 17.0 15.0 17.3
Stump 45.9 34.3 32.3 17.3

c. Inlet and Access Channels From Gulf to Intracoastal (Distances in Statute Miles)

Pass/Inlet Inlet Channel ICW Access Total
Longboat 1.3 1.0 2.3
New 0.87 2.0 2.7
Big Sarasota 3.3 1.7 5.0
Venice 0.3 0.2 0.5
Stump 1.5 0.8 2.3

d. Outside Route, including Runs from and to the ICW
(Distances in Statute Miles)
Pass/Inlet Longboat New Big Sarasota Venice Stump
Longboat 16.3 22.6 30.8 50.6
New 16.3 11.7 19.9 39.7
Big Sarasota 22.6 11.7 18.2 38.0
Venice 30.8 19.9 18.2 20.8
Stump 50.6 39.7 38.0 20.8


Inlet Locations

and Status

Five inlets are currently used by boaters to transit be-
tween Gulf and bay waters in the Sarasota Bay system:
Longboat Pass, New Pass, Big Sarasota Pass, Venice Inlet
and Stump Pass (Map 1). Distances for traversing the
outside (Gulf of Mexico) and inside (Intracoastal Water-
way) routes, and the intervening inlet access channels,
are given in Table 1 (a-d). Outside route distances for
mariners are slightly longer, but travel time under favor-
able conditions is usually less, especially for high-perfor-
mance cruisers. Cruising sailboats often choose the out-
side route to catch a better breeze and to avoid bridges
with restricted openings.
Longboat Pass, New Pass and Venice Inlet are feder-
ally maintained waterways between the Sarasota Bay sys-
tem and the Gulf. They are periodically surveyed and,
when shoaling occurs to a point where actual depths are
less than the designed project depths, are dredged by the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in cooperation with the
West Coast Inland Navigation District (WCIND). Big
Sarasota Pass and Stump Pass are not federally designated
inlets, although Stump Pass was dredged by the WCIND
in 1998.
The U.S. Coast Guard maintains aids to navigation at
all the inlets except Stump Pass, which as of the summer
of 1998 was unmarked on the Gulf side.
Two inlets Longboat Pass and New Pass have
single-span lift bridges situated near the inlet mouths. The
bridge at Longboat opens on demand for boaters from 6
a.m. to 6 p.m. and afterwards on three hours' notice. The
New Pass bridge has restricted openings for boaters from
7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the hour and every 20 minutes.
Six inlets have closed during the past century on this
reach of the Florida coast: Bradenton Beach, Little Sarasota
Pass, Midnight Pass, Casey's Pass, [Old] Stump Pass and
Bocilla Inlet (Map 1). Another historic inlet probably
existed at Buttonwood Harbor prior to 1883.
Both current and historic inlets have formed, closed
and reopened over their life spans, due to natural pro-
cesses as well as human intervention. Such events directly
affect the amount of water flowing through an inlet dur-
ing a tidal cycle, referred to as a tidal prism. Dredging
inlet "A" can rob some of the tidal prism from inlet "B,"
situated several miles down the coast. Similarly, the tidal
prism of an inlet may be affected by changing the area of
the bay adjacent to it; an inlet may close due to an abun-
dance of sediment and strong longshore drift coupled with
a small tidal prism.
Considerable debate continues regarding the effects
of the dredging and filling of mangrove and marsh envi-
ronments along bay margins on decreasing the tidal prism
and the related closing of inlets. Little disagreement ex-
ists, however, about the potential for storm overwash of
the barrier islands and the creation of new inlets. Sixteen
sites along this stretch of the coast are particularly vul-
nerable to storm overwash (Map 1). These locations are
prone to overwash because of the narrow width of the bar-
rier island, low elevation and orientation to storm-wave

Table 1.
Route Distances
Between Inlets


Bradenton Beach "
Longboat Pass *


New Pass

Current (Open)
Historic (Closed) (after Davis and Gibeaut, 1990)
Potential (after Doyle et al., 1984)
Modern Shoreline

4 0 4 8

L Miles

Little Sarasota Pass

Midnight Pass

Big Sarasota PassI .
and New Pass.

Old Stump Pass m.1

Map 1.
Inlets of the Sarasota Bay System

Stump Pass 1

Bocilla Inlet *




Inlet Features

Inlets are natural or manmade channels connecting
the coastal Gulf to estuaries with strong tide-induced cur-
rents that build up supplies of sand, called shoals, just
inside or adjacent to their channels. Inlets may close, open,
migrate or stabilize in response to changes in sediment
supply, wave climate, tidal regime and back-bay filling or
dredging. Changes in inlets occur at different time scales,
ranging from hours during severe storm events to decades
or even centuries.
For the mariner running the inlet, the most recogniz-
able feature is the steep groundswell that builds up across
the inlet mouth, caused by resistance created by the sea
bottom where offshore swells run into shoal water. Fig-
ure 1 is a perspective drawing of tide-generated and wave-
generated transport features in a representative inlet sys-
tem. The transport of sediment along the beach face, re-
ferred to as longshore drift, occurs on the Gulf side of
barrier islands and is depicted to be moving from top to
bottom. Figure 2 shows the elements of an inlet system;
some features may or may not be present or well-devel-
oped in all inlets.
Sand is deposited as shoals just inside and outside the
inlet because of the reduction in current speed in these
areas. Ebb-tidal deltas occur at the seaward margin -
outside of the inlet and retreat or bend in response to
the interaction between incoming waves and ebb tides.
Large inlets, such as Big Sarasota Pass, build extensive,
visible, ebb-tidal deltas. Sediment sources include mate-
rial washed out from the bay, material eroded from the
main ebb channel and longshore drift. Longshore drift is
-ind thit moves up and down the coast between the beach
.i nd rl ,.. water edge of the breaker zone due to waves ap-
I p h.. .i.i the shore at an angle.
S.l r..I ral brought out on the ebb tide is deposited on
rl ,. I .1. platform. The breaking waves that the mariner
S.p-' .....- s at the inlet entrance are a dominant feature
on swash platforms and help to create swash bars. Mar-
ginal channels may develop along the ends of barrier is-

lands where incoming (flood) tidal flow is reinforced by
wave-generated currents; the swash channel at Boca
Grande is a good example of this phenomenon. From
boat-deck level, these channel features appear to have the
smoothest water surface and absence of breakers and,
under favorable weather, may offer the mariner an alter-
native shorter route through the inlet.
Spits occur in areas with a high rate of sediment trans-
port alongshore and a small tidal prism; spit growth even-
tually may restrict tidal flow in the main channel and
cause downdrift migration or closure of the inlet. Migra-
tion of barrier island spits along this reach of the Florida
coast is southward, in the direction of net longshore trans-
port. The build-up of Englewood Beach on south
Manasota Key adjoining Stump Pass illustrates this pro-
Flood (incoming) tide transports sediment landward
through the inlet via the main channel, producing a similar
shallow-water, delta-like feature on the bay side of the
pass. The interplay of ebb and flood tides on this bayside
delta creates spits and spill-over lobes where ebb currents
run strong. However, flood-tidal deltas are less prone to
change than ebb-tidal deltas along this reach of the coast.
Over time, they become stabilized by seagrasses and man-
groves; they serve as nurseries for juvenile fish and are
important fishing grounds.
Flood-tidal deltas, because of their bayside location,
have been subjected to heavy land-development pressure.
Much of the New Pass flood delta is covered by City Is-
land; that of Big Sarasota Pass is occupied by Bird Key.
Natural and improved (dredged) flood channels are
marked with aids to navigation. The bayside flood chan-
nels may carry additional signage advising the mariner to
avoid wandering outside the channel and on to the flood-
tidal delta, where propeller scarring of sensitive bay bot-
tom habitat may occur.

Figure 1.
Tide-Generated and Wave-Generated Transport Features
in a Representative Inlet System (from Smith, 1984)

Figure 2.
Tidal Inlet Features (from Smith, 1984)

The intertidal
community is one of
Sarasota Bay's most
biologically productive.
This fringe area is a
mix of land and water,
where creatures ofthe
land and water most
often converge.
The mangrove trees
found here serve as
home for birds, and the
jutting prop roots of
the red mangrove offer
shelter to small fish
and shellfish.

Swash '.-

I ,


Current Transport
Current Transport
:% Sediment

Types of Inlets

Tidal and wave energies determine the form of sea-
ward flowing ebb-tidal deltas. The varying mix of these
two forces determines the movement and deposition of
sediments. The character of an inlet its shape, dynam-
ics, navigability may change over time as the inlet ad-
justs to changes in the way tides and waves interact. Since
Southwest Florida is a low-wave-energy coastline and the
mean tidal range is relatively small (two feet), a delicate
balance exists between tide- and wave-dominated condi-
tions. A slight decrease in tidal prism (e.g., due to bayside
filling) may cause a change from tide-dominated to wave-
dominated conditions in inlets. Likewise, a change in wave
energy due to sediment accumulation and spit develop-
ment along the beach face may cause development of an
offset alignment to the ebb delta.
In addition to these natural forces, shoreline engineer-
ing through the construction of groins, jetties and bulk-
heads features designed to stabilize the shoreline by
holding beach sand in one place can dramatically al-
ter the supply of sediment and the course of develop-
ment and shape of an inlet. Another factor leading to
inlet alteration is beach renourishment activities, which
can contribute to pass shoaling through sand transport
via longshore drift.
The drawings in Figure 3 depict four types of inlets
found in Southwest Florida, based on the shape of ebb-
tidal deltas: tide-dominated, wave-dominated, mixed-
energy with straight shape and mixed-energy with offset
shape. The Gulf is to the left side of the diagram and the
bay is to the right, as in Figures 1 and 2.

Figure 3.
Inlet Types Along the Southwest Florida Coast
(from Davis Jr. and Gibeaut, 1990)

The signature feature of tide-dominated inlets is a well-
defined main ebb channel with deposits of beach sand on
adjacent Gulf shores. Longboat Pass and Venice Inlet fall
under this category; these inlets have relatively stable ebb-
tidal deltas. Mariners should exercise caution in approach-
ing tide-dominated inlets from the Gulf under ebb-tidal
conditions, because maximum ebb current velocities are
considerably higher than currents at flood stage at these
locations. A combination of strong on-shore winds and
peak ebb tide can be especially hazardous because of the
amplitude and steepness of the waves. Furthermore, the
Longboat Pass entrance channel is over one statute mile
long, and a lift bridge must be negotiated within the throat
of the main ebb channel, an area where currents are par-
ticularly strong. Venice Inlet is jettied and, while passage
through this entrance channel is less than 0.5 statute miles,
currents and eddies adjacent to the rock revetments make
for potentially precarious conditions.
Wave-dominated inlets are very unstable and prone to
migration. As wave-dominated inlets migrate along the
coastline, their main channel is lengthened and becomes
hydraulically inefficient for tidal exchange. Sometimes
referred to as "wild inlets," no such passes currently exist
in the Sarasota Bay system, but historically such an inlet
existed at Little Sarasota Pass in 1883. Wave-dominated
inlets are susceptible to closure by the formation of new,
more hydraulically efficient inlets, formed when storms
breach spits on the updrift side. Such an event occurred
when Little Sarasota Pass closed and Midnight Pass formed
during the hurricane of 1921.
Mixed-energy inlets have ebb-tidal (outside) deltas
shaped by a combination of tidal and wave forces. Their
maximum ebb- and flood-tidal current velocities tend to
be equal, with a lower magnitude than those of other in-
let types. The main ebb channel may shift its location as
a result of drifting beach sediment.
Where longshore drift is pronounced, a channel offset
may occur. New Pass is an example of a mixed-energy
inlet with a straight ebb-delta shape. Its main ebb chan-
nel is periodically dredged on an alignment perpendicu-
lar to the shore (east-west heading). Net longshore drift,

from north to south, builds a shoal over the swash plat-
form. When this occurs, the best water for boaters is usu-
ally found along the marginal flood channel, which fol-
lows the north end of Lido Key into the throat of the
main ebb channel.
Big Sarasota Pass and Stump Pass are mixed-energy
systems with offset alignments. The approach from the
Gulf to the main ebb channel at Big Sarasota Pass is from
the south off the north end of Siesta Key. Once inshore
of the swash bar shoals, the channel parallels the curved
north shore of Siesta Key. Stump Pass was dredged in 1998
to offset the deposition of sediment southward from
Englewood Beach. This is an unmarked channel and should
be approached from the Gulf with extreme caution.


1883 Historical Changes

Changes in inlets are revealed by historic charts and
aerial photographs that provide an indelible image of the
location and shape of these highly dynamic, visible fea-
tures of the region's boating geography. The following
section offers a description of these changes as seen
through a selection of maps that recreate antecedent inlet
features plus contemporary aerial photographs illustrat-
ing current conditions.

Longboat Pass
Pre-development conditions in Longboat Pass (Map
2) are shown by the 1883 map, in which the inlet ebb-
tidal delta appears to have a mixed-energy offset form.
Flood channels on the bay side are extensive north and
south of the inlet; storm overwash may have created the
small inlet approximately 0.5 mi. to the north. In the
1977 map, the inlet has a similar shape and is in approxi-
mately the same location. The channel has been dredged:
1 977 on the bay side it follows the natural flood course, but on
the Gulf side it cuts directly across the swash platform. A
recurved spit (Beer Can Island or Greer's Island) has de-
veloped at the north end of Longboat Key and is a popu-
lar destination for weekend boaters. The flood (bayside)
tidal delta is extensive, and the Intracoastal Waterway has
been dredged through the shoal. The 1995 aerial view
shows present conditions at Longboat Pass. Note the
dredged access channel (a) leading from the Intracoastal
Waterway to the inlet. An alternate route (b) follows the
southerly natural flood channel, but requires running close
and parallel to the bridge, which can be hazardous under
ebb tide conditions. Two popular anchorages are adja-
cent to the (b) route. The flood-tidal delta is also a popu-
lar boating destination on weekends and holidays.


Flod Tfdui Delta
Ebbfland Channel N

7l W + E
Ebb Tidal DIa
Ovedged Channel
Untrproved Chpnnol S
.a Anchorage

5000 0 5000 10,000

Longboat Pass Feet
Map 2.

Buttonwood Harbor
Buttonwood Harbor (Map 3) on Longboat Key re-
tains many bayside features of a historic antecedent inlet.
The flood-tidal delta is one of the largest of all the inlets
along the Sarasota Bay system. Extensive beds ofseagrass
cover this feature, a prime recreational fishing area in Big
Sarasota Bay. The access channel from the Bay to Button-
wood Harbor follows the relict flood channel. The bar-
rier island at this location is prone to beach erosion, storm
wave attack and potential breaching, and is one of the
narrowest points on the key.


SEbb/Flood Channel
SFlood Tidal Delta
* Land W
E Unimproved Channel

5000 0 5000 10,000


Buttonwood Harbor
Map 3.





New Pass
New Pass (Map 4) was well developed in 1883. A com-
parison with the 1977 map shows substantial changes to
the Lido Key barrier island and to the bayside flood delta
and channel features due to dredge-and-fill development
in the 1920s. The flood delta area has been reduced sub-
stantially by creating City Island and, as a result, one can
surmise that a similar reduction has occurred in seagrass
habitat. Tidal exchange also has been reduced: before de-
velopment (1883 conditions), the flood channels were
linked between New Pass and Big Sarasota Pass, and
overwash from the Gulf to the Bay probably occurred
between the islets south of Lido Key. The inlet has been
dredged since 1926. The 1998 aerial shows the effects of
longshore drift from Longboat Key and sediment accu-
mulation on the swash platform. The marginal flood chan-
nel that parallels the north Lido shore is used under these
conditions by boaters with local knowledge. An anchor-
age, popular with weekend recreational boaters, is situ-
ated inside the recurved spit on the south end of
Longboat Key.

E Flood

E EbhF

TaOd ChDlO
lood ChanIe

WaiS W

EbbTKOa CDelta
E Dredged Channel
Unmproved catnnel
".* Alchrge

5000 0 5000 10,000


New Pass
Map 4.

. %

": E .
Z q[: "






Tidal Delta

Ebb/Flood Channel
Ebb Tidal Delta

SShallow Bay
SDredged ICW Channel
Unimproved Channel
4, Anchorage

5000 0 5000 10,000


Big Sarasota Pass
Map 5.

Big Sarasota Pass
Big Sarasota Pass (Map 5) on the Gulf side retains much
of its pre-development (1883) form with a large ebb-tidal
delta and large main channel. It is on the bayside, where
large changes are manifest (1977) due to extensive dredge
and fill that has dramatically reduced the flood-tidal delta
at Lido and Bird keys. In the early 1900s, these areas were
expansive seagrass habitats and popular sportfishing lo-
cales. Land development on Lido Key occurred in the
1920s and on Bird Key in the 1960s (1977 map). The
1995 aerial shows the presentday swash platform and
current extent of the southward trending sediment drift.
The northwest shore of Siesta Key has been bulkheaded,
which has stabilized the position of the main channel.
There are three natural flood-channel tributaries: north-
west leading to the Sarasota Yacht Club (SYC), northeast
to the Intracoastal Waterway and the City of Sarasota and
east around Fishery Point and along the north shore of
Siesta Key to the Siesta Key Bridge and the Intracoastal
Waterway. A pocket anchorage behind Otter Key is
reached off the SYC flood channel.




1883 Little Sarasota Pass
and Midnight Pass
Little Sarasota Pass and Midnight Pass (Map 6) are
closed inlets. Little Sarasota Pass on Siesta Key ceased to
exist when the hurricane of 1921 created Midnight Pass,
which in turn was closed in 1984 by bulldozers. Blind
Pass is another former inlet. Heron Lagoon (1995 aerial)
J is a remnant flood channel of Little Sarasota Pass, which
Little is an enclosed water body. Another portion of the old
Sarasota flood channel (1955 map) is a navigable arm of Little
Pass Sarasota Bay (1995 aerial). The flood delta is large and
upland vegetation is present on Bird Keys, also called the
Jim Neville Marine Preserves, a marine park and bird sanc-
tuary. Neville Preserve, which received extensive spoil
during the dredging of the Intracoastal Waterway, is in-
habited mostly by exotic plant species, inhibiting its use
by birds and other Bay life. The aerial shows the course of
the ICW, which was widened and deepened in 1963-64;
the 1955 map shows the spot dredging and spoil place-
ment from the earlier 1900s waterway improvement. The
1 955 bay side of these historic inlets is important for its recre-
ational fisheries and bird rookeries, habitats that owe their
existence to antecedent inlet conditions.



E Flood Tidal Delta
Ebb/Flood Channel N

a Land
Water E
Ebb Tidal Delta

Spoil S

Dredged Channel

5000 0 5000 10,000

Little Sarasota
and Midnight Passes
Map 6.




SEbb/Flood Channel



Ebb Tidal Delta

E Dredged Channel
, Anchorage

2500 0 2500 5000


Casey's Pass and Venice Inlet
Map 7.

Casey's Pass (Venice Inlet)
Casey's Pass and Venice Inlet (Map 7) are situated mid-
way along the Sarasota Bay system. Casey's Pass was an
unimproved inlet that provided access between the Gulf
and Lyons, Dona and Roberts bays. It was susceptible to
repeated closing and reopening over its history as it mi-
grated up and down the coast. In 1883, Casey's Pass was
about a quarter-mile north of its present location. The
pass was jettied in 1937; since 1945 it has been main-
tained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and is com-
monly referred to today as Venice Inlet. It is navigable
under most conditions because of the straight, short chan-
nel. The Intracoastal Waterway (1998) runs between
Turner Key and Casey Key before turning east by Snake
Island and south into Roberts Bay. Ebb currents run strong
between Turner Key and Snake Island, and a shoal has
built up between Snake Island and the southern end of
Casey Key. The north shore of Venice has been
bulkheaded; the main channel follows close to this shore-
line. A small anchorage in southwestern Roberts Bay, ad-
jacent to the Venice Yacht Club, can be approached ei-
ther from the north along the bulkheaded eastern shore
ofVenice or by the yacht club channel from Roberts Bay.


I Tidal Delta

lood Channel

Ebb Tidal Delta
H Dredged Channel
Unimproved Channel
S, Anchorage
*Photo predates latest dredging

5000 0 5000 10,000


Stump Pass
Map 8.

Stump Pass
Stump Pass (Maps 8 and 9) is probably one of the
most dynamic inlets in Southwest Florida. Evidence ex-
ists on the bay side of a former inlet location, which to-
day is a popular recreational anchorage, approximately
two miles north of the present inlet. Several flood-tidal
deltas in Lemon Bay near the inlet have been stabilized
over the years and are covered with extensive seagrasses.
Some of the deltaic deposits have become intertidal and
are vegetated with mangroves. Lemon Bay, for these rea-
sons, is a prime recreational fishing locale in the Sarasota
Bay system. Several anchorages are near the present inlet:
one between Peterson Island and Englewood Beach, the
other between Grove City Key and Thornton Key. The
1998 aerial shows the significant southerly longshore drift
that was closing off the inlet and prompted the recent








Scale 1:63,360

Map 9.
Historical Changes at Stump Pass




The Sarasota Bay inlet system has experienced many
changes in its location, shape and dynamics during the
past 100 years. These changes have affected mariners' abil-
ity to enter and leave inland waters and make passages in
the Gulf of Mexico. Natural processes and human inter-
vention have influenced the evolution of these inlets.
Notwithstanding the history of change, mariners can
use this knowledge of inlet history and understanding of
the inlet forms and features to determine their behavior
and navigable condition. While the focus of concern for
safe navigation often is on the Gulf side, it is important
to remember that the bay sides of inlets, particularly their
flood tidal deltas, play a significant role in the creation of
important recreational fisheries and bird rookery habitats.


(in chronological order)

1. Published Reports

Hine, A.C.; R.A. Davis; D.L. Mearns; and M. Bland, 1986,
Impact of Florida's Gulf Coast Inlets on the Coastal Sand Bud-
get, University of South Florida, Report to the Florida Depart-
ment of Natural Resources, St. Petersburg, 128 pp.

Davis, Jr., R.A., and J.C. Gibeaut, 1990, Historical
Morphodynamics of Inlets in Florida: Models for Coastal Zone
Planning, Sea Grant Technical Paper 55, Florida Sea Grant,

2. Books

Hayes, M.O., 1979, "Barrier island morphology as a function
of tidal and wave regime," in Barrier Islandsfrom the GulfofSt.
Lawrence to the GulfofMexico, S.P. Leatherman, ed., Academic
Press, New York, 1-27.

Doyle, L.J.; D.C. Sharma; A.C. Hine; O.H. Pilkey, Jr.; W.J.
Neal; O.M. Pilkey, Sr.; D. Martin; and D.E Belknap, 1984,
Living with the West Florida Shore, Duke University Press,
Durham, N.C.

Smith, D., 1984, "The hydrology and geomorphology of tidal
basins," in The Closure of Tidal Basins, W. van Aslst, ed., Delft
University Press, 85-109.

3. Student Thesis

Reynolds, W., 1976, "Botanical, Geological and Sociological
Factors Affecting the Management of the Barrier Islands Adja-
cent to Stump Pass," New College Environmental Studies Pro-
gram, unpublished honors thesis, Sarasota, 117 pp.

4. Government Charts (Compilation [Smooth] Sheets)

U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, 1883, Sarasota Bay, Florida,
hydrographic (H) sheet, 1:20,000 scale, Register No. 1559a

1883, Little Sarasota, Bay, Florida, hydro-
graphic (H) sheet, 1:20,000 scale, Register No. 1559b.

1884, Lemon Bay: Bocilla Inlet to Stump
Pass, Florida, hydrographic (H) sheet, 1:20,000 scale, Regis-
ter No. 1595a.




o The Venice area is a microcosm of the entire
uulf Intracoastal Waterway region in Southwest
Florida, in which multiple interests striving to develop
shorefront real estate, to create new land from formerly
pristine estuarine and shore ecosystems and to increase
and improve the navigable waterways have propelled
coastal development in many profound ways. The area
between the Albee Bridge (north) and Hatchett Creek
Bridge (south), including Lyons Bay, Dona Bay, Roberts
Bay and those freshwater streams extending east and north,
has been selected to illustrate the effects of land drainage and
waterway construction policies both latent and direct on
waterfront and bay water uses (Map 1).

Venice fishing pier.

Physical Geography

The Venice-area estuary comprises three intercon-
nected shallow bays Lyons, Dona and Roberts sepa-
rated from the Gulf of Mexico by a barrier island (Casey
Key). There is a semi-diurnal (two times per day) tidal
exchange with the Gulf of Mexico through Venice Inlet
(historically named Casey's Pass). The Gulf Intracoastal
Waterway, originally dredged in the early 1900s and wid-
ened and deepened in 1965, aids in maintaining salinity
levels in the estuary.
Freshwater discharge by low-gradient, short coastal
streams is an important aspect of the hydrological regi-
men of two of the bays. Shakett Creek (formerly Salt
Creek) flows into Dona Bay; Curry Creek is a tributary
of Roberts Bay. Lyons Bay has no freshwater streams.
The surrounding upland has a low elevation (about
four to five feet above mean low water) and is underlain
by limestone. Many seasonal wet depressions reflect a high
water table and an absence of- or poorly developed -
surface drainage. Rainfall averages about 53 inches per
year, concentrated in the May-October wet season.
Historically, during the wet period the surrounding
low, swampy land was inundated and surface water flowed
in meandering streams or sloughs that linked the many
seasonal wet depressions. In the pre-development era,
Knight's Slough extended from the head of Curry Creek
off Roberts Bay east to the Myakka River, while Cowpen
Slough linked Salt Creek and Dona Bay with freshwater
drainage from Sarasota County's northern lands. The area
was covered with pine, scattered patches of water oak and
numerous small swamps. The bay shoreline was an ex-
tensive growth of mangroves and marsh.
Lyons, Dona and Roberts bays are very shallow, with
numerous oyster bars projecting from their bottoms.
Physical land barriers built into the bays affect tidal ex-
change; those barriers include deposition of spoil on
Turner Key at the mouth of Lyons Bay and land filling
for highway and railroad causeways in Dona and Roberts
bays. These manmade features impede freshwater discharge
and encourage lowered salinity levels during the rainy sea-
The net effect of these constrictions both natural
and manmade is to create a "stilling basin," an ideal
settling condition for suspended solids that are transported
by Cowpen Slough and Curry and Shakett creeks, espe-
cially during heavy rainfall periods. Low salinity and sus-
pended solids may preclude growth of desirable seagrasses.
Algae forms of vegetation predominate; their growth is
fostered by the input of nutrients from septic tanks of
waterfront homes as well as by stormwater runoff from
roads and lawns.
Another effect of restricted water flow in these bays,
related to lowered salinity levels, is the fact that the rate
of deposition of silt is increased. This silt increase comes
about because of a process called flocculation, in which
small particles carried in tidal waters tend to clump and
settle at the freshwater/saltwater interface.


Little Sarasota Ba,


Inlracoaslal Waterway Channel


2 0 2 4 6


Map 1.
Venice Area


I _

Land Reclamation or Waterway Navigation?

The development history of the Sarasota Bay system is
a record of competing and conflicting interests, some
wanting to control flooding by upland drainage and oth-
ers striving to build a protected inland waterway for ei-
ther pleasure boating or commercial use.
Settlers who established Nokomis and Venice in the
late 1800s had a strong interest in finding relief from flood-
ing during the rainy season. They recognized the low-
lying areas adjacent to the sloughs as potentially rich farm
and pasture lands, but these lands were too wet to culti-
vate or utilize for cattle grazing except in occasional ab-
normally dry years.
When the Intracoastal Waterway was dredged between
Sarasota and Venice in the early 1900s, local community
leaders in Venice began seeking ways to achieve construc-
tion of the "missing link" in the waterway south to Char-
lotte Harbor. Settlers also wanted reclamation of swamp
land for agricultural development. They convinced the
federal government to examine the engineering feasibil-
ity and economic justification for such a multipurpose
project in 1915.
Two routes were considered: Knight's Slough, between
Roberts Bay and the Myakka River at a point about 19
miles above the river's mouth, and Cowpen Slough by
way of Salt Creek (Shakett) to Dona Bay and to the up-
per Myakka River above Rocky Ford (Map 1).
The Knight's Slough connection at that time was navi-
gable by small boats during the wet season. Little Sarasota
Bay had an available depth of about 3 feet at mean low
water, and somewhat less at extreme low tide. In Dona
Bay and Roberts Bay, where depths were considerably less,
it was determined that dredging would have to be done
to connect with the southern terminus of the Intracoastal
Waterway at Casey's Pass. The Myakka River between
Knight's Slough and the river mouth had a least-reported
depth of 2.5 feet at low water on one broad sand flat and
3 feet on several other bars. The river above the point
where the Cowpen Slough would strike it had only a
small low-water discharge, which ceased altogether in
the dry season.
The 1915 federal study concluded that the proposed
waterway had nothing to recommend it either as a
highway for commerce or as a pleasure boat route.
Dredging also did not meet engineering and cost fea-
sibility tests of combining, into a single project, navi-
gation improvement while ameliorating flood condi-
tions. The proposed Knight's Slough improved navi-
gation route would be of no value for drainage and
reclamation of lands subject to overflow; Cowpen
Slough, while serving the purpose of drainage and rec-
lamation, would be cost-prohibitive and useless for
commerce and navigation, federal officials determined.

The proposed Cowpen Slough route would reach the
upper Myakka Valley, but without extensive and costly
improvement of the river itself involving locks and
dams and regulating works for the storage of water -
both the river and the proposed connection with the bays
would be non-navigable for most of the year. For several
months the route would have no water at all except in
detached pools and in the tide-level portion.
Curry Creek's history after 1915 is one of repeated at-
tempts by local landowners to divert surface flooding by
diking and ditching the land. The Curry and Knight fami-
lies may have constructed small-scale drainage improve-
ments during the subsequent decade. The Brotherhood
of Locomotive Engineers, which purchased extensive land
holdings in Venice and east to the Myakka River, engaged
in large-scale land reclamation projects in the mid-1920s.
In the late 1950s, the Blackburn family may have con-
structed a shallow ditch and dike along the route of an
old drainage ditch that emptied into Curry Creek and
Roberts Bay.
Shakett Creek received more direct public attention
because of the encroaching urbanization from Sarasota
within the area adjoining Cowpen Slough. The region
had developed into an important farming and grazing
economy during the 1940s. A small-scale system of large
drainage ditches was constructed during that period. In
the early 1960s, a flood-control plan was established to
accommodate urban development, protect the vegetable-
producing area and provide adequate drainage for pas-
ture lands lying along the stream channel. A major fea-
ture of the plan was replacing the natural meandering
slough with a straight, box-cut channel and rechannelizing
the drainage ditches at the lower reaches. The net effects
increased the drainage area of Shakett Creek and increased
freshwater runoff from its watershed under storm condi-
tions, approximately doubling the carrying capacity of the
channel and its discharge into Dona Bay. The maximum
discharge occurs about once in four years. Construction
of engineering structures upstream of Shakett Creek has
had a decided effect on the natural ecology of this estuary
(see Physical Geography).
Surface-water drainage and land reclamation along
Knight's Slough and Cowpen Slough have contributed to
altering the coastal landscapes downstream along Curry
Creek and Shakett Creek. However, neither Curry nor
Shakett Creek evolved into the connector link between
Venice and Charlotte Harbor for the Intracoastal Wa-
terway system. That link was achieved in 1967 by
completion of the alternate route, a five-mile connec-
tor channel from Roberts Bay to Red Lake, along with
dredging the length of Lemon Bay through "The Cut-
off" to Gasparilla Sound.

A porthole is a round
window in a ship's side,
fitted with glass and
metal covers.

Sea-level rise will be a
continually important
issue, not onl for
beach erosion but also
for eastward
migration ofthe
shoreline. Although
estimates vary widely,
some indicate that the
sea level in the Gulfof
Mexico and bay could
rise between three and
fivefeet during the
next 100years,
altering the
boundaries of
Sarasota Bay and
changing the lifestyles
ofarea residents.

A. Roberts Bay
B. Dona Bay
C. Original ICW
D. Turner Key
E. Bird Island
F. Casey's Pass
G. Nokomis

Changes on the
Waterways and
Along the Waterfront
The Intracoastal Waterway has had a profound effect
on coastal development in Venice. At the beginning of
the 20th century, it provided an all-weather "inland" wa-
ter route to Sarasota. As Venice became the southern ter-
minus of this waterway, its location justified stabilizing
the inlet at Casey's Pass (Venice Inlet today) to assure ac-
cess to the Gulf of Mexico. The natural pass was dredged
around 1925, but this measure proved to be a temporary
solution (Photo 1). Construction of the jettied Venice


Inlet was completed in 1938 (Photo 2). Prior to World
War II, the waterfront north and south of the jetties re-
tained a natural appearance with a vegetation-lined shore-
line. The original road from downtown Venice to the south
bank of the inlet bridged the mouth of Pelican Cove near
present-day Higel Park (Photo 3).


D -B F

Photo 1.
Aerial view of Casey's Pass, looking east from the Gulf of Mexico,
around 1925 (Source: Edward Ral)

Photo 2.
Dredging of Venice Inlet upon completion of jetty construction, around
1937 (Source: Eugene Maier)

Photo 3.
Aerial view looking north
toward Venice Inlet, around
1940, showing road from
Venice Avenue to Inlet
Circle, with bridge across
Pelican Cove

A. Venice Avenue
B. Inlet Circle
C. Pelican Cove
D. Venice Inlet
E. Turner Key
F. Roberts Bay
G. Dona Bay
H. Lyons Bay

* % I,.

The area between the Albee Bridge and the Inlet shows
some of the most dramatic changes caused by nature and
humans in Venice. Map 2 illustrates (a) conditions be-
fore coastal development in 1883; (b) the alignment of
the original Intracoastal Waterway in 1913; (c) the coast-
line and water depths before the modern Intracoastal
Waterway was dredged in 1955; and (d) waterway con-
ditions in 1996.
In 1883 (Map 2a), Casey's Pass was located a short
distance north of the present inlet and opposite Lyons
Bay. Deep-water access from the Pass was limited to the
south channel and Roberts Bay (depths shoaled north-
ward to less than 3 feet between the Pass and Little
Sarasota Bay). By 1913 (Map 2b), Casey's Pass had mi-
grated south to the location of the present inlet. The Lyons
Bay Cut represents the original Intracoastal Waterway
alignment prior to 1913, which effectively created an is-
land later known as Turner Key (Photo 4). Saltwater
marsh covered this island and the adjoining peninsula
(called Bay Point today). Waterway conditions in 1955
(Map 2c) show a 5-foot controlling depth in the original



Intracoastal Waterway south from the Albee Bridge and
east ofTurner Key to Roberts Bay. That channel was aban-
doned in 1965 when the route was widened to 75 feet
and deepened to 9 feet (Map 2d); the new channel short-
ened and straightened the alignment, creating one island
north of Turner Key and another, Snake Island, south of
Bay Point. While the former Intracoastal Waterway east
of Turner Key was protected from currents on the gulf
side of the Inlet, the present channel is exposed to these
currents and chronically shoals where the mouth of Lyons
Bay meets the waterway and Venice Inlet (Photo 5).
Landside development pressures began to impact bay
habitats in the early decades of the 20th century (Map 3).
Bridge foundations and causeways were built across Dona
Bay and Roberts Bay, in 1912 for the railroad extension
from Fruitville Junction to Venice and in 1921 when the
Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41) was extended through Venice.
This highway was four-laned in the 1950s, and the cause-
ways were further widened. These structures obstruct natu-
ral freshwater discharge from Shakett and Curry Creeks and
restrict saltwater inputs from the Gulf of Mexico.


Note: Depths are shown to the nearest foot; bathymetry for
the 1883 and 1913 maps is relative to mean low water

Map 2.
Waterway and Waterfront Changes from 1883
to 1996 between the Albee Bridge and Venice




Photo 4.

of Venice Inlet,
around 1940,
showing spoil
placement on
Turner Key from
ICW dredging of
original channel

A. Turner Key B
B. Bay Point
C. Pelican Cove E *
D. Bird Island
E. Original ICW
F. Venice Inlet
G. Venice

Photo 5.
Aerial view south
of Venice Inlet,
around 1990,
showing new and
original (relict)
ICW channel

A. Turner Key
B. Bay Point
C. Pelican Cove
D. Bird Island
E. Original ICW
F. Venice Inlet .&
H. Present ICW
I. Snake Island

Hardened Shoreline



Albee ,

Venice .


0 0.25


Map 3.
Shoreline Changes from 1883 to 1972 between the Albee Bridge
and Hatchett Creek Bridge, Venice






] Fill




p The shoreline in 1948 was almost pristine, with only
a few homes or farms found along the waterfront (Photo
6). Significant land-use changes occurred along the bays
S" and creeks in the 1950s and 1960s. Mangroves and other
S filtering, biologically active waterfront fringe plants were
S replaced by seawalls and other manmade structures; resi-
dential canals and waterfront homesites replaced marshes,
while shallow estuarine areas were dredged to provide
landfill for waterfront parcels. By the early 1960s almost
the entire shoreline of the estuary had been seawalled
a between the Albee Bridge and Hatchett Creek Bridge
It (Map 3). Most waterfront homes in the area were built
by 1970. During the 1960s the Venice population
.1 doubled from 3,444 to 6,648; since then, the city has
. grown to 18,500 and the uplands have undergone in-
tense urbanization (Photo 7).


Venice represents the extreme case of altering land and
water for coastal development within the 55-mile reach
.of the Sarasota Bay system. More than 80 percent of the
bay water area has changed in the area between the Albee
and Hatchett Creek bridges either by shoaling or
Photo 6. deepening by nature or humans within the past cen-
Black-and-white aerial photo mosaic of Venice showing tury (see Historical Development of the Gulf Intrac-
1948 land use coastal Waterway).
These changes were caused by the desire to reclaim
uplands and control drainage during the wet season as
well as by a desire to provide navigable waterways for
commerce and recreation. The dike-and-ditch policies
of private developers and public agencies (local, regional,
state and federal) have had an effect on water quality in
the estuary. Channelizing Cowpen Slough has doubled
the carrying capacity of Shakett Creek and its freshwater
discharge into Dona Bay. Had a similar project been car-
ried out on Knight's Slough, with a connection to the
Myakka River, comparable effects would be occurring to-
day on Curry Creek and Roberts Bay.
Public-works projects such as road and waterway con-
struction have changed the shape of the shoreline and
the boating geography of the region.

Photo 7.
Color infrared aerial orthophotographs of Venice showing
1995 land use

(in chronological order)


Numerous species
of waterfowl are
found throughout
the Sarasota Bay
area. Of note are
several species of
herons and egrets,
brown pelicans,
ibises, ospreys,
several varieties of
gulls and terns, the
bald eagle,
wintering ducks,
wood stork,
roseate spoonbill,
and the
endangered scrub
jay, to name a few.

1. Books

Sulzer, Elmor, "Ghost Railroads of Sarasota County,"

2. Published Government Reports
U.S. House of Representatives, 1914, "Sarasota Bay, Fla.,
including Little Sarasota Bay and Big Sarasota Pass (With
a Letter from the Chief of Engineers, Reports on Prelimi-
nary Examination and Survey of Sarasota Bay, Fla., In-
cluding Little Sarasota Bay and Big Sarasota Pass)," 63rd
Congress, 2nd Session, Doc. No. 844, 16 pages, one map
(1: 45,000 scale, approximate): Sarasota Bay, Florida,
Tampa Bay to Venice.

U.S. House of Representatives, 1917, "Waterway from
Sarasota Bay to Miakka River, Fla. (With a Letter from
the Chief of Engineers, Report on Preliminary Examina-
tion of Waterway between Sarasota Bay, near Venice, and
Miakka River, Fla., with a View to Giving such Channel
Dimensions as Commerce May Demand)," 65th Con-
gress, 1st Session, Doc. No. 309, 13 pages.

3. Other Reports

DeLeuw, Cather & Brill (Engineers Architects), 1959,
Engineering report on drainage canal connecting Myakka
River and Roberts Bay, Sarasota County, Fla., prepared
for Albert E. Blackburn, Venice, Fla., 25 pages.

Ross, Bernard E., 1973, Dona Bay Study, prepared for
the Board of County Commissioners, Sarasota County,
55 pages.

Lincer, Jeffrey L., et al., 1975, The ecological status of
Dona and Roberts Bays (and its relationship to Cow Pen
Slough and other possible perturbations), Final Report
to the Board of County Commissioners, Sarasota County,
by Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota and Placida, Fla.,
179 pages.

4. Government Charts (Published Charts and Compi-
lation [Smooth] Sheets)

U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, 1883, Little Sarasota
Bay, Florida, Hydrographic (H) Sheet, 1: 20,000 scale,
Register No. 1559b.

1955, Little Sarasota and Blackburn Bays,
Venice Inlet to Midnight Pass, Hydrographic (H), 1:
10,000 scale, Register No. 8154.

National Ocean Service (Coast Survey), 1996, Florida:
Charlotte Harbor to Tampa Bay, 1: 20,000 scale inset,
Venice, Fla., NC 11425.

5. Newspaper Articles

Sarasota Herald, June 3, 1921, re: US 41 land-filling and
causeway construction.

6. Other Sources

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE), minutes
of September 1925 meeting, re: authorization for exten-
sive canal and ditch digging on Curry Creek.



To countless marine creatures, seagrass beds are a
vital source of food and shelter. Seagrasses also con-
tribute to water quality due to the stabilization of
bottom sediments.
Five types of seagrass are found within the Sarasota
Bay system: Thalassia testudinum (turtle grass),
Syringodium filiforme (manatee grass), Halodule
wrightii (shoal grass), Ruppia maritima (widgeon grass)
and Halophila engelmannii (star grass).
Based on bathymetryfrom the pre-development eraas com-
pared to today, (Map 1) it is estimated that seagrass area has
been reduced due to destruction from dredge-and-fill activities
and deteriorating water quality Direct destruction takes the
form of filling of the bays for coastal development, dredging of
canals, creation of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway or boat pro-
peller scarring. Of the roughly 10 square miles ofseagrass found
today in the area of Sarasota Bay stretching from Cortez Bridge
to Siesta Key Bridge, three square miles have been identified as
suffering from light scarring, 0.8 mile from moderate scarring,
and.5 mile from severe scarring (Map 2).
Indirect damage to seagrasses comes through poor water
quality in the bays, mostly due to increased coastal develop-
ment. Losses of upland vegetation alter plants' capacity to filter
sediments and pollutants from reaching the bay system. Coastal
development also increases the amount of nutrients that reach
the bays. For example, Sarasota Bay has lost approximately 39
percent of its mangroves between the 1880s and 1990.
Investigation of potential seagrass areas in the
redevelopment era (1893) and non-existing seagrass water
areas today indicates a possible net loss of more than 22
percent of seagrass beds (Map 3). Much of the change is in the
intermediate water depth areas of Big Sarasota Bay area, such as
north ofLongbar Point and adjacent to Bird Key (Map 3), where
seagrass beds could have thrived due to better water quality.
Studies to determine if better marking of seagrass mead-

80 percent ofallfish ows and increased boater education on the importance of
and shellfish use

seagrasses would help protect the resource have pro-
duced mixed results. In the Cockroach Bay Aquatic
Preserve and Fort DeSoto Park areas, plans to protect
seagrass beds including increased boater education on
the importance of the resource, better channel marking,
limiting powerboat access to more sensitive marine
areas and enhanced enforcement of existing laws -
were put into effect. Unfortunately, propeller scarring
continued to increase. Clear demarcation of seagrass
beds reduced accidental grounding by boaters unfa-
miliar with the areas, but better marking tended to
escalate recreational fishing on the grass beds and in-
creased damage to seagrasses. In Sarasota Bay, improved
marking of the ICW and connectors is being used as a
waterway management technique to protect seagrasses.
The Sarasota Bay National Estuary Program has
determined that nitrogen pollution has been reduced
by 30 percent baywide, resulting in a 20-percent in-
crease in habitat coverage. This increase has occurred
due to improved wastewater treatment. These kinds
of improvements, for example, to the Manatee
County regional wastewater treatment plant near
Tidy Island, have virtually eliminated runoff into the
bays and increased seagrass bed coverage there. In
Big Sarasota Bay, improvements to City of Sarasota
wastewater treatment practices have decreased nitro-
gen discharges into the bay by about 95 percent. Im-
provements in Sarasota mean that more than 46 per-
cent of all wastewater is reclaimed, rather than being
dumped in the bay. And, as a result of water quality
improvement such as these, the Bay since 1988, has
been able to support 310 million more shrimp, 68
million more crabs and 100 million more fish. Other
management efforts are also restoring wetland habi-
tats and creating artificial reefs to replace lost habitats
from dredge-and-fill activities.


Seagrass recovery in
Sarasota Bay:
There has been an
percent more shrimp,
crab andfin fish in
Sarasota Bay;
614 acres of
seagrasses have
returned since 1988.
Ultimately, more
seagrasses means
a healthier,
cleaner bay;
a better bay means
enchanced fisheries.
Estuaries are among
the mostproductive
of all the earth's
systems: more than

1. Government Charts (Compilation [Smooth] Sheet)

U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, 1883, Sarasota Bay, Florida,
hydrographic (H) sheet, 1:20,000 scale, Register No. 1559a

2. Government Digital Data Sources

Florida Marine Research Institute, 1994, sea grass extent
and condition, 1:40,000 scale, St. Petersburg, Florida.

3. Published Reports

Folit, R., andJ. Morris, 1992, Beds, Boats, and Buoys: A
Study in Protecting Seagrass Beds from Motorboat Pro-
peller Damage. Environmental Studies Program, New Col-
lege of University of South Florida. Prepared as an Early
Action Demonstration Project for the Sarasota Bay Project,
National Estuary Program.

Sarasota Bay National Estuary Program "State of the Bay
Report 1990."

Sarasota Bay National Estuary Program "Framework for
Action 1992."

Map 2.
Damaged Seagrass
Areas in
Sarasota Bay

Total Area (Excluding Land)
Percentage Sq. miles
16.4 5.6
8.7 3.0
2.4 0.8
1.3 0.5
71.2 24.5 r

Sea Grass Areas with No Damage
Sea Grass Areas with Light Damage
Sea Grass Areas with Moderate Damage
Sea Grass Areas with Severe Damage
Non-Sea Grass Water Areas




and E

Map 3.
Seagrass Area
Changes in
sota Bay From
potential in 1883
existing in 1994

Total Area (Excluding Land)
Percentage Sq. miles Sea Grass Areas: Existing and Potential
18.5 6.8 Potential in 1883 and Existing in 1994
8.4 3.1 Non-Potential (Water) in 1883 and Existing in 1994
50.8 18.71 Non-Potential (Water) in 1883 and Non-Existing in 1994
22.3 8.2 Potential in 1883 and Non-Existing in 1994







CORTEZ: A Working Waterfront

Mariners coming upon the village of
Cortez can glimpse a historic fishing water-
front in crisis. Once one of the largest fishing
villages in Florida, Cortez and its waterfront
today are only a shadow of their former selves.
Where once scores of net-drying shacks stood on
pilings just offshore, today only one still exists (Photos 1
[1940] and 2 [1990s], pages 72 and 73). Where a dozen
bustling fish houses once teemed with the fare of the sea,
today only a handful still fight to survive. Development
pressure increased populations targeting fixed stocks of
fish and legislative changes in fishing techniques have cre-
ated major changes in the working waterfront.
Cortez is a village of more than 500 people located at
the north end of Sarasota Bay, seven miles west of
Bradenton in Manatee County. It was settled in the 1880s
by North Carolina fishers who came south seeking mul-
let. At that time, the village was comprised of about 16
extended families: Fulfords, Guthries, Taylors, Lewises,
Adamses, Garners, Joneses, Culbreths, Bells, McDonalds,
Capos, Greens, Coarseys, Moras, Carvers and Drymonds.
In 1879, a U.S. Fish Commission official traveled up and
down the west coast of Florida conducting a survey ofcommer-
cial fishing. Of Cortez, he wrote, "Mullet is the fish most largely
taken, and 10,000 pounds were caught at a haul."
The mullet and its roe were kench-cured, or rubbed
with salt and dried in the sun, then shipped to Cuba to
be sold, until a railroad was constructed between Tampa
and Bradenton in 1884. Then, fish were shipped on ice
to markets in Atlanta, Jacksonville and points north.
The village was not named until 1896, when the post
office was built. Ironically, villagers decided to call their
community "DeSoto," after the first Spanish explorer to
set foot in this part of the state. However, some nameless
postal clerk in Washington, rumored to have discovered
two other "DeSotos" in Florida, named the village after
"the great conquistador Hernando Cortez," even though
Cortez never came near Florida.

At that time, the North Carolina natives found their
village to be heaven. As Ben Green writes in his book
Finest Kind:
"The immigrants had found what they were looking
for: Sarasota Bay, sheltered from the Gulf by Anna Maria
Island and Longboat Key, provided miles and miles of
fishing grounds that were teeming with mullet, redfish,
trout, bluefish, snook, sheepshead and flounder. Just be-
yond Anna Maria and with easy access through Longboat
Pass lay the Gulf of Mexico, which had huge schools of
mullet running along its beaches during roe season and,
in the spring, a wealth of mackerel and kingfish."
Fish houses were built, homes erected and docks con-
structed, and the little village flourished. In 1912, a brick
schoolhouse was built.
Cortez prospered through the early part of the 20th
century. Gasoline-powered engines greatly enhanced the
range of fishers, and as the state boomed, so too did
Cortez. However, a hurricane on October 23, 1921, de-
stroyed the Cortez waterfront with 75-mph winds and
10-foot seas in the bay. Fish houses, netspreads and fish
camps were destroyed, but the hardy villagers rode out
the storm in the old schoolhouse and no one perished.
The village rebuilt, only to face another catastrophe:
the stock market crash in 1929, coupled with a mysteri-
ous disappearance of mullet from the waters of Sarasota
Bay. As Green quoted Earl Guthrie in Finest Kind:
"It was so bad you could leave Cortez on the flood
tide, go across Palma Sola Bay and right on across the
mouth of the Manatee River, past Terra Ceia and McGill's Bay
past Joe's Island, right on up to Bishop's Harbor, be there on the
high water, turn around and come back the same way go across
to Anna Maria and down the Gulf side of Longboat Key and
back to Cortez and never see the first mullet jump. Not the first
one, day after day after day"
Fishers left the sea to seek other work until the mullet
again reappeared in 1938-39. (During the financially
wracked years of the Depression, Cortez became noted as
the only place in the U.S. that didn't accept financial as-
sistance from the federal government.)
The ways of the water again confounded villagers in 1947,
when one of the worst red tide outbreaks in history decimated
fishing. The tiny microorganism visited the area again in 1953.
It wasn't only the threat from sea that impacted the fishing
village. By 1967, development along the shores had destroyed
acres and acres of mangroves, a vital nursery habitat and food
source for mullet. That year, legislation was proposed to ban
commercial fishing in Manatee County within 1,700 feet of
shore a move that would effectively end fishing in the bays.
Cortez fishers banded together with other groups throughout
the state and defeated the legislation, but the die was
cast, and developers continued to gnaw on the outskirts
of Cortez, attempting to transform the village into a huge
housing subdivision.

(ortez fishermen pulling in their nets off Anna Maria in Bay Front Park.

...the Cortez fisherman
is one of the freest
people on earth. Some
of nature's most
spectacular sights are
the normal backdrop
for his daily labors:
white sand beaches
framed by the brilliant
blue ofthe horizon;
billowy cumulus clouds
rearing up to heaven;
and at night, the Milky
Way stretching towards
distant galaxies,
looming ice-cold
and crystalline
across the sky.
There arefew people
who have seen such
wonders and remained
untouched by them.

-Finest Kind:
A Celebration of a
Florida Fishing
Ben Green

A change in the mullet market took place in the 1970s
when Asian interests began to buy mullet roe at what for
Cortez were astronomical prices. Some fishers would reap
huge profits for fishing only in the weeks between Thanks-
giving and Christmas traditionally prime roe season
- and then selling the roe to Taiwan and Japan, where it
was considered a high-priced delicacy.
That wave of prosperity ended in 1995, when a Florida
Constitutional amendment was placed on the ballot by a
petition of Florida citizens. Voters approved a ban on
gillnet fishing within state waters; mullet, the village's
mainstay, now may only be caught by nets other than en-
tanglement gill nets. This has reduced mullet landings and
affected the economic viability of small-scale fishers and
fishing villages like Cortez.

More than 100 Cortez homes, businesses and water-
front areas have now been placed on the U.S. Registry of
Historic Places, protecting them from destruction. Mana-
tee County and the state, through the Florida Commu-
nities Trust, have agreed to purchase the old school house
and turn it into a community center.
This will assist in the survival of the village of Cortez
as a traditional working waterfront community.

Green, Ben, "Finest Kind: A Celebration of a Florida
Fishing Village," 1985.

Albion Inn in Cortez
in the 1920s, a popular
winter resort. It is now
a Coast Guard station.

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Aerial view of Cortez in 1940s


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Photo 2
Aerial view of Cortez in 1990s



Charting Sarasota Bay

The tides and waves
are the sovereign
forces of the
seashore, shaping
and reshaping the
edge of the continent
with their ceaseless
motion. Year after
year they nibble
away cliff and
promontories, grind
rocks into sands that
form beaches and
dunes, and carry the
flotsam ofthe world to
shore, where prowling
beachcombers huntfor
treasures. Beautiful
shells, striking
gemstones, grotesque
pieces of driftwood
and wondrous glass
floats fom far-off
Japan are part of the
water's bounty.

-The SeashoreWorld
David Costello

A nautical chart is a printed reproduction of
hydrographic data carefully gathered for an area
of interest. As the chart primarily serves the needs
of the mariner, it shows not only the nature and
form of the coast, the depths of the water, char-
acter of the bottom and locations of reefs, shoals
and other dangers to navigation; but also the rise
and fall of the tides, the locations of artificial aids to
navigation, the direction and strength of currents and
the behavior of the earth's magnetism as it affects the
mariner's compass.
The chart includes appropriate land areas that are vis-
ible from the water, which may include landmarks of use
to navigation. Historically, coastal charts were almost ex-
clusively products of the United States Coast and Geo-
detic Survey (USC&GS), which based them primarily
on its own topographic and hydrographic surveys, supple-
mented with the best available data from various other
sources. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin-
istration (NOAA), absorbed the functions of the
USC&GS upon its founding in 1970.

Historic Methods

of Charting
During the latter half of the 19th century, compre-
hensive hydrographic surveys by USC&GS produced the
first charts of sufficient detail and accuracy to be of ev-
eryday use to mariners navigating Florida's coastal water-
ways. The methodology for nautical chart preparation
differed from that of topographic mapping, which was
applied to all land areas and features inshore of the high-
water line.Topographic mapping was based on the
planetable, a device that resulted in an essentially com-
plete map when the field work was done. With the
planetable, the topographer constructed a map during
the actual survey, delineating the high-water line, sketch-
ing contours and locating roads and other cultural fea-
tures, all with the terrain in full view. However, the
planetable was not suited for use in a moving boat, and
most of the "terrain" was hidden from the hydrographers,
as we call makers of nautical charts.
Hydrographic surveys were undertaken to represent
the water area of a portion of the earth's surface by means
of soundings (depths) taken at various locations through-
out an area, in sufficient numbers to enable the hydrog-
rapher to delineate all underwater features of special sig-
nificance to the navigator, such as channels, reefs, banks,
shoals, rocks and other characteristic submarine features.
It was and still is understood that the resulting
chart represented these features at the time of the survey,
and that as the dynamic coastal environment changed,
revisions would be necessary.
In the 1800s, the work of actually surveying the water
area on a given project usually followed establishment of
control points on land and completion of the topographic
mapping in the vicinity. These operations furnished the
latitudes and longitudes of the stations that were to be
used in the hydrographic work for locating the boat's
positions during the survey.

The hydrographer first prepared a working sheet, or
"boat sheet," on which a projection (meridians of longi-
tude and parallels of latitude) was laid down, the control
points plotted and the high- and low-water lines trans-
ferred from the planetable survey. Occasionally, additional
control stations were established by the hydrographic
party. Proposed sounding lines were plotted in pencil on
the working sheet in accordance with a planned system
designed for most effective depiction of known bottom
features. The hydrographer attempted to follow these lines
as the work progressed.
On the water, the hydrographer recorded information
in a "sounding volume," to be later plotted in the office
as a "smooth sheet," which became the official record of
the survey. A complete smooth sheet is a record of the
soundings taken during the field survey, together with
other data necessary for a proper interpretation of the
survey, such as depth curves, bottom characteristics,
names of geographic features, control station designations
and locations and tide records used to relate soundings
to a reference datum.
Soundings were generally made from small boats. The
early boats may have carried sails, but during actual
sounding operations the boat would have been powered
solely by crew members manning oars, providing the
necessary maneuverability and precise handling at low
speeds or while stopped.
A typical field party engaged in inshore hydrography
usually included two hydrographers or engineers (one to
direct operations and one to operate a sextant for locat-
ing the survey boat's position by measuring angles be-
tween shore stations), a leadsman to take the soundings,
a recorder to transcribe the soundings and the observed
angles and the crewmen necessary to operate the boat. In
some instances, additional personnel on shore assisted in
determining the boat's location.
Two essential operations were performed simulta-
neously: measurement of depths (soundings) and deter-
mination of the geographic positions (latitudes and lon-
gitudes) of the soundings so they could be charted in
correct relation to each other and to the surrounding to-
pographical features.
Sextant angles taken in the survey boat between pairs
of control stations on shore gave an accurate position.
When feasible, theodolite angles could be taken at two
shore stations upon a flag hoisted in the boat.
For sounding in depths up to 15 feet, the leadsman
used a graduated pole with a disk on the lower end to
prevent its sinking into a muddy bottom; at greater
depths, he would employ a leadline. A skilled leadsman
could employ either device with the boat moving for-
ward, but the boat would necessarily be stopped for the
sextant readings to determine position. Another method
of determining position was by running out ranges from
shore and fixing the positions by time. This method,
which allowed collection of many more soundings in a
work day, became practicable when the oarsmen were
replaced by an engine that allowed the boat to move at a
constant speed.

Astrolabe, a medieval
instrument used to
determine the altitude
of the sun or other
celestial bodies. Sailors
used an astrolabe on the
open sea in charting
their travels.

Map 1.
Composite of 1883 Hydrographic (H)
and Topographic (T) Sheets
for Sarasota Waterfront


Each recorded sounding needed correction for the
height of the tide at the time of measurement, in order
to refer the depth to the sounding datum or reference
plane, usually mean low water. During the hydrographic
work, personnel at a nearby tide station would maintain
a log of the tide's rise and fall. The hydrographer would
later use this information to adjust each sounding for
the state of the tide.
During the survey, the boat crew recorded the nature
of the bottom encountered as soundings were made. On
the finished chart, this information would be of use to
mariners evaluating suitability of the bottom for anchor-
ing. The crew also recorded positions and condition of
man-made aids to navigation.
Upon completion of field work, the hydrographer
would have collected and assembled all the information
necessary to prepare a nautical chart. The smooth sheet,
relevant topographic maps and other information would
be passed to the cartographers responsible for produc-
ing the final chart in a form suitable for printing in large
quantities. Map 1 is a composite assembled from portions
of hydrographic and topographic sheets of Sarasota Bay
near the City of Sarasota, resulting from surveys ending
in 1883. It does not represent the finished nautical chart.
However, these intermediate products clearly reflect the
immense labor involved.
The skill and dedication of the hydrographers, ex-
pressed through the artistry of the cartographers, gave
charts of immense practical value to the mariners for
whom they were created. Today they are admired for
their esthetic value and for the realization they instill of
the immense labor and care that went into their cre-
ation. To chart just one typical bay on Florida's coast,
hydrographers spent many weeks or months making and
recording thousands of soundings along with a posi-
tion and tide correction for each using techniques
that could be accurately described as "paper and pencil"
before the word "electronic" had been coined. Yet where
the positional accuracy of early nautical charts can be
evaluated, it is almost always found to be excellent. And
the basic approach created by the early hydrographers,
from data collection to production of the finished chart,
was sufficiently sound that it is still in use today; only
the tools have changed.




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Map 2.
1954 Hydrographic Sheet of Sarasota Waterfront





Mid-20th Century

After World War II, hydrographers creating nautical
charts benefited from technological advances that made
possible small, portable, accurate electronic depth sound-
ers. Even with the increased efficiency afforded by the
new devices, however, the old technique for position de-
termination use of a sextant to measure angles between
stations on shore remained the state of the art. And
the leadsman still had a role to play: Coast and Geodetic
Survey "Descriptive Report 8034," dated 1953, reported
that "portable depth recorder" (Model 808-J) was used
"where the depths and character of the bottom permit-
ted. On the extensive shoal flats, in areas where marine veg-
etation cut out the fathometer return and in investigating
shoal spots, a wooden pole, graduated in feet, was used."
The 1953 report and others from 1954 provide fur-
ther insights into the equipment and methods. In the 1953
survey of the waters from Longboat Pass to Tampa Bay,
the primary vessel was to be the USC&GS's vessel
"Sosbee," which was 68 feet in length. She had a wooden
hull, a turn radius of 100 meters at 1000 rpm and a speed
of seven knots. She had been used only part of one day
when she was found to be too unhandy in strong winds.
Remaining soundings were done from a 25-foot skiff,
powered by two 10-hp outboard motors. The skiff was
based at Cortez for most of the survey, then moved to a
shipyard near the mouth of the Manatee River for opera-
tions in that area.
A portable, automatic tide gauge was maintained at
Cortez. Hourly heights were used "without correction"
- no allowance was made for distance from the gauge.
The tidal datum was mean low water, and "headquar-
ters" determined the gauge elevation.
Reflecting another technological advance, control sta-
tions were located on aerial photographs, and shorelines
and topography were determined from "photogrammet-
ric sheets." Still, sounding positions were determined by
"the usual three-point fix method," using a sextant where
possible but otherwise "estimated from shoreline details."
Bottom samples were taken to allow better definition than
"hard" and "soft," which were the only annotations on
earlier charts.
In all, 16.5 square miles were surveyed, with 3,170
positions mapped. Pole soundings totaled 6,849. Transects
totaled 486.7 miles, including 24.1 by the "Sosbee." The
hydrographers were confident that one-foot accuracy had
been achieved.
In 1954, the USC&GS completed hydrographic sur-
veys of Sarasota and Little Sarasota Bays, with the "Sosbee"
and the 25-foot skiff based at the Sarasota Municipal Pier.
The "Sosbee" served as survey vessel for deeper parts of
Sarasota Bay, the skiff for all other work. Tides were read
directly from a "portable automatic tide gauge" at Sarasota
Municipal pier.
In the Sarasota Bay survey (January 5-September 16,
1954) the "sounding lead" was used briefly. Navigating
by 26 triangulation stations, the crew recorded 3,992
positions and 4,532 pole soundings, with 618.4 statute
miles traversed. In Little Sarasota Bay (January 29-March
21, apparently with work done in both areas during part
of the time), the numbers were 13 triangulation stations,
2,950 positions, 5,981 pole soundings, and 338.2 statute
miles traversed.
Map 2 shows results from the 1954 hydrographic sur-
vey of Sarasota Bay, again in the vicinity of Sarasota.

Map 3.
Modern Nautical Chart
1996 Hydrographic Chart of Sarasota Waterfront

Charting in the 1990s

Nautical chart makers in the 1990s benefit from ad-
ditional technological advances since the 1950s. Most sig-
nificant is computerization, which allows efficient man-
agement and manipulation of the immense quantities of
data resulting from measuring depths at many thousands
of places in a body of water. The calculations involved to
correct the field data for tides and other variables must
be performed for each datum, an extremely labor-inten-
sive task when done with pencil on paper but one readily
managed by computers. The computer programs called
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are important to
today's chart-creation process, as they automate precise
placement on the chart of depth data and readily assist
such tasks as creation of depth contours. Also, workers
using GIS in other fields, such as environmental plan-
ning, marine animal migration studies, oil spill cleanup,
etc., can share the data.
Specialized mapping programs and graphics applica-
tions have almost completely supplanted the traditional
methods of cartography; rarely does a draftsman apply
ink to vellum to create a nautical chart or map. Instead,
the cartographer guides a mouse or uses a pressure-sensi-
tive stylus on a graphics tablet to transform the plethora
of high-quality, precise data into an understandable, use-
ful and aesthetically pleasing product for the boater. Map
3 is a portion of NOAA Intracoastal Waterway chart
11425 (31"t edition, October 1996), showing the same
location, at the same scale, as Maps 1, 2 and 4.
Another technology that has transformed cartography
in the 1990s is the Global Positioning System (GPS), a
satellite-based means of determining positions on the
earth's surface. Using the most accurate kind of GPS,
known as Differential GPS (DGPS), positions can
quickly and easily be measured to one meter (about 1.1
yard) or better. When the workboat arrives at a desired
site, the DGPS system records the depth, the time (for
use in tide correction) and the location. In ideal situa-
tions, the DGPS data collector can be connected directly
to the depth sounder, so the only action required by the
field personnel is one touch of a button, if that. How-
ever, depth sounders are still sufficiently fallible that per-
sonnel on the boat will often have to heave a lead line or
dip a staff to measure the depth or verify the fathometer's
reading. The leadsman lives on. Still, eliminating the need
to pause for sextant readings to fix a position for each
sounding yields a huge increase in data-collection effi-
ciency. Today a crew of one or two persons can measure
several times more depths in a workday than was pos-
sible with a larger crew as recently as 10 years ago, with
much improved accuracy.


Map 4.
1999 Prototype Photo-chart of Sarasota Bay



The Near Future

Nautical cartography is on the verge of even more dra-
matic improvements as technology continues to advance.
Increasing availability of high resolution, rectified (spa-
tially correct, undistorted) imagery from aircraft or satel-
lites will make it feasible to include realistic views of land
features on charts. Mainland and island topography and
vegetation, bridges, piers, roads, etc., can be shown in a
way recognizable to most boaters. This will not only aid
navigation, but also will contribute to enjoyment and un-
derstanding of the marine environment and the land ad-
joining our coastal waters. Map 4 was scanned from a
prototype of such a chart.


Data collection methods being developed will allow
rapid measurement of depths, and perhaps bottom char-
acteristics, over large areas by remote sensing from air or
space; these sensors include water-penetrating laser radar.
Use of remote sensing will greatly increase efficiency of
data collection, compared with today's methods.
This all-digital approach to data collection and pre-
sentation will facilitate widespread use of charts as real-
time displays in a boat's instrumentation and on home
computers used for trip planning and reminiscing. But
for the foreseeable future, the most common form of nau-
tical chart will remain a paper one carried on board for
ready reference. The chart of the future will be unfolded
by skippers and consulted for plotting the day's course,
for finding shelter in storms and for deciding where to
drop the hook at day's end.

(in chronological order)

1. Published Government Reports

Bowditch, N., 1958, American Practical Navigator: An
Epitome, .' . U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office,
Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.

Shalowitz, A. L., 1964, Shore and Sea Boundaries: With
SpecialReference to the Interpretation and Use of Coast and
Geodetic Survey Data, 2 Volumes, U.S. Department of
Commerce, Coast and Geodetic Survey, Government
Printing Office, Washington, D.C.

2. Published Books

Berry, J. K., 1993, BeyondMapping: Concepts, Algorithms,
andIssues in GIS, GIS World Books, Ft. Collins, Colorado.

3. Government Charts (Compilation [Smooth] Sheets,
Intracoastal Waterway Standard and Prototypes)

U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, 1883, Sarasota Bay,
Florida, hydrographic (H) sheet, 1:20,000 scale, Regis-
ter No. 1559a

1883, Sarasota Bay, Florida, topographic
(T) sheet, 1:20,000 scale, Register No. 1517a.

1954, Sarasota Bay and New Pass, hy-
drographic (H) sheet, 1:10,000 scale, Register No. 8044.

1954-55, Little Sarasota and Sarasota
Bays: Vamo to Ringling Causeway, hydrographic (H)
sheet, 1:10,000 scale, Register No. 8098.

NOAA, National Ocean Service, Coast Survey, 1996,
Florida: Charlotte Harbor to Tampa Bay, Nautical Chart
11425 (Intracoastal Waterway), 1:40,000 (1:20,000 in-
sets), 31st Edition.

Coast Survey, 1999, Florida: Charlotte
Harbor to Tampa Bay, Nautical Chart 11425 (Intracoastal
Waterway), 1:40,000 (1:20,000 insets), prototype photo-
chart evaluation copy.


aucretion the build-up of land due to artificial or natural causes.
bascule a style of bridge utilizing counterweights that
allows a steel span to raise, permitting high-masted
vessels to pass through.
bathymetry the science of measuring water depths to
determine coastal or ocean bottom topography.
bayou a small, sluggish secondary stream or lake.
beach renourishment the process of pumping sand
onto beaches from channels, inlets, or offshore sources.
bulkhead to partition an area for protection against
',rusion by water; a structure that provides such protection.
bulkhead line the farthest offshore area to which a structure
may be constructed without interfering with navigation.
commercial landing a quantity of fish or shellfish brought
ashore by a commercial fishing operation.
creek a natural stream or channel, normally smaller than and
often flowing into a river.
dredge spoil sand and/or mud removed from the bottom of a
water course or body of water during dredging.
dredging removing bottom material from a waterway.
ebb-tidal delta sand deposited just outside the seaward margin
of an inlet.
ecosystem a natural unit formed by the interaction of a
community of organisms with their environment.
erosion the loosening, transporting and wearing away of the
land, chiefly by water or wind.
estuarine habitat the natural home or dwelling place of an
organism that lives in an estuary.
estuary a semi-enclosed body of water with free connection
with the open sea, and within which seawater is measurably
diluted by freshwater from land drainage.
exotic species plant or animal species not native to an area.
fetch the distance traversed by waves without obstruction.
fishery place for harvesting fish; a coordinated activity for the
capture of fish.
flood-tidal delta sand deposited just inside the seaward margin
of an inlet.
flushing the removal or reduction of contaminants in an
estuary or harbor through the movement of water and
consequent dilution.
gillnet fishing a method of fishing in which specifically sized
mesh nets catch fish, often mullet, by the gills. This method
of fishing allows smaller or larger fish to escape the net,
while fish of a certain size are caught.
habitat the natural or unnatural environment of a plant or animal;
the kind of place where a given organism normally lives.
Halodule wrightii (shoal grass) thin (2 3 mm) flat leaves
generally 4-10 centimeters in height. This
species occupies the lower intertidal area and is the seagrass
most commonly observed exposed on tidal flats. It is also
common along the deeper fringes of Thalassia testudinum beds.
Halophila englemannii (star grass) a seagrass characterized by a
whorl of six to eight smooth, flat green leaves (to 3 centimeters
in length) atop a slender stalk. The edges of the blades have
fine teeth.
hardened shoreline/shore hardening the artificial alteration
of a shoreline, using seawalls, rubble or other means;
replacement of vegetative or otherwise natural shoreline with
man-made structures.
hydrography the scientific analysis of the physical condition,
flow, boundaries and related characteristics of surface waters.
hydrology the science relating to the occurrence, circulation,
distribution, and properties of the waters of the earth, and
their reaction with the environment.
inlet a short, narrow waterway connecting a bay or lagoon
with the sea.
intertidal the area of bay bottom that is alternately covered
with water and then exposed due to the rise and fall of tide
waters on a regular basis. Areas that are only occasionally
exposed or covered due to extremely high or low tides are
generally not considered to be intertidal.
jetty a barrier built out from shore to protect the land
from sand erosion by currents or waves.
longshore drift the parallel movement of suspended sand along
the beach, caused by wave and tidal action.

mangrove a salt-tolerant sub-tropical tree or shrub found
near the shore, with leaves and bark that are rich in tannin.
marsh a transitional land-water area covered at least part of
the time by estuarine or marine waters.
mean depth the average depth of water.
prop wash the turbulent action of water ejected from a
boat propeller.
prop scour the resultant condition of sediments subject to
chronic prop wash.
revetment a hard structure used to protect an embankment
from water or wind.
rip rap a foundation or revetment in water or on soft
ground, made of irregularly placed stones or pieces of
boulders and used to protect the shore.
salinity any concentration of salt in water, usually measured
in parts per thousand.
salt marsh a marine habitat that is usually wet with saltwater
and contains shrubby vegetation.
seagrass bed a mass or growth of marine plants, generally
found on the sea bottom in relatively shallow water.
sea level the level of the surface of the ocean; especially, the
mean level halfway between high and low tide used as a
standard in reckoning land elevation or sea depths.
seawall a wall or embankment constructed along a shore
to reduce wave erosion and encroachment by the sea.
sediment organic or inorganic material often suspended in
liquid that eventually settles to the bottom.
shellfish an aquatic invertebrate, such as a mollusk or
crustacean, that has a shell or exoskeleton.
shell mound/midden a refuse pile, in this region generally
composed of fossilized bivalve shellfish, produced by
aboriginal peoples.
shoal to become more shallow, or an area of shallow water.
smooth sheet a complete record of sounding taken during
field surveys plus other data to provide proper interpretation
of the survey, such as depth curves, bottom characteristics,
names of geologic features, tide records, and other details.
sound a body of water, wider than a strait or channel, usually
connecting larger bodies of water.
spoil accumulation of dredged materials.
storm overwash storm-driven waves flowing across a
barrier island.
semi-diurnal referring to tides, when a high or low tide occurs
twice in a 24-hour period, i.e, half (semi) a day (diurnal) in
length of time
subtidal the area of the bay bottom that remains covered
with water under all average tide conditions.
substratum the bottom of the bay, the soils of the bay bottom.
Can also refer to any surface that allows for the colonization of
marine life.
swash channel a narrow channel in which tides flow, often
cut through a bar or shoal near tidal passes.
Syringodiumfiliforme (manatee grass) the only seagrass
with cylindrical leaves that may exceed 50 centimeters in
length. Common in higher-salinity grass-bed fringe
areas (deeper water) near gulf passes.
Thalassia testudinum (turtle grass) the most conspicuous
subtidal grass, with thin flat blades four to 12 millimeters wide
and up to 1 meter in length, although most Sarasota Bay
specimens are considerably shorter. At low rides the upper
portions of the blades are often exposed.
tide the periodic rising and falling of the oceans resulting
from lunar and solar forces acting upon the rotating earth.
tributary a body of water that supplies a larger body of
water, such as a lake or estuary.
turbidity cloudy or hazy appearance in a naturally cear
liquid, caused by a suspension of fine solids.
uplands terrestrial areas above the influence of ride waters.
wetlands areas with wet or spongy soil, such as swamps or
tidal flats, characterized by plants adapted to living
under often-wet conditions.
wastewater water that has been used for industrial or
domestic purposes.
wet-sand area (of beach) the area of beach generally
seaward of the mean high-tide line. 79


Scientific, Technical and Boating-Related Information

on the Waterways of Southwest Florida

The references listed below result from a decade-long Urban
Boating Bay Water Management Research and Extension Pro-
gram, sponsored by the National Oceanographic and Atmo-
spheric Administration (NOAA), through its National Sea Grant
Program, Coastal Services Center and Marine Chart Division,
and by the West Coast Inland Navigation District. Designed to
help Florida boaters, residents, communities and businesses
achieve sustained and self-regulatory uses of coast waters, the
program's goal is to eliminate the need for costly regulation of
citizens who participate in boating, while preserving and re-
versing the decline in coastal waters in which many boats are
operated. The program focuses on anchorage and waterway man-
agement, operating under the aegis of formalized agreements
with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Detailed resource inventories, scientific and technical inves-
tigations and extension education publications (maps and guide
materials) are some of the results of this decade-long effort.
Copies of these materials can be examined at or obtained from
the agencies referred to by number in ( ) below.

Ankersen, Thomas, and Richard Hamann, in press, Anchor-
ing Away: Government Regulations and the Rights of Naviga-
tion in Florida, Florida Sea Grant, Gainesville, Fla. (1)

Antonini, Gustavo A., Leonard Zobler, William Sheftall,
John Stevely and Charles Sidman, 1994, Feasibility of a Non-
Regulatory Approach to Bay Water Anchorage Management for
Sustainable Recreational Use, Florida Sea Grant TP-74, March,
Gainesville, Fla. (1)

Antonini Gustavo A., Thomas Ankersen, David Burr, Ken-
neth Dugan, Richard Hamann, Charles Listowski, Gary Lytton,
Charles Sidman, Heather Stafford, John Stevely and Will White,
1998, A System for Evaluating Anchorage Management in
Southwest Florida, Florida Sea Grant TP-84, August, Gainesville,
Fla. (1)

Sidman, Charles, 1998, A Water-Use Zoning Strategy to
Reduce Bio-Physical and Social Impact from Recreational Boat-
ing in Three Southwest Florida Anchorages. Doctoral disserta-
tion, Department of Geography, University of Florida,
Gainesville, Fla. (1)

Antonini, Gustavo A., and Paul W Box, 1996, Sustainable
Waterway Management: Assessing Levels of Service for Boat
Accessibility in Residential Canal Systems, Presentation and
Report to the Longboat Key Town Commission, October 17,
1996, Longboat Key, Fla. (2)

Antonini, Gustavo A., and Paul W Box, 1996, A Regional
Waterway Systems Management Strategy for Southwest Florida,
Florida Sea Grant TP-83, September, Gainesville, Fla. Eighty
maps were produced covering southern Manatee County and
northern Sarasota County (Cortez bridge to Siesta Key bridge).
They are compiled into four atlases. (2)

Antonini, Gustavo A., Robert Swett, Sharon Schulte and
David Fann, 1998, Regional Waterway Management System
for South Sarasota County, Florida Sea Grant TD-1, August,
Gainesville, Fla. Four thematic atlases, each totaling 94 pages,
were produced in two stages, covering southern Sarasota County
(Siesta Key bridge to Charlotte County line). Stage 1 covers the
Siesta Key bridge-Gottfried Creek area, and each atlas contains
72 pages; Stage 2 covers the Myakka River, and each atlas con-
tains 22 pages. (4)

Box, Paul W, 1997, Bottom-Up Simulation for Evaluation
of Recreational Boat Traffic Monitoring. Doctoral dissertation,
Department of Geography, University ofFlorida, Gainesville, Fla. (1)

Swett, Robert Gustavo A. Antonini, and Sharon Schulte,
1999, Regional Waterway Management System for North Mana-
tee County, in press. Map products cover the area north of the
Cortez bridge to Hillsborough County and are contained in
three 52-page atlases. (5)

Charts, Boater Maps and Guidebooks
A Guide to Anchorages in Southwest Florida, 1999, 2nd
Edition, SGEB-48, Florida Sea Grant and Boaters Action and
Information League, Gainesville and Sarasota, Fla. (also avail-
able through the Internet at www.flseagrant/org/

Antonini, Gustavo A., William Sheftall, John Stevely, Bar-
bara and Walter Stilley, 1995, Southwest Florida Anchorage
Selection Guide, Florida Sea Grant SGEB-30, December,
Gainesville, Fla. (3)

Big Pass/Otter Key Anchorage, Sarasota Bay, 1997, Florida
Sea Grant SGEF-51 (map), September, Gainesville, Fla. (2)

Buttonwood Harbor, Sarasota Bay, 1997, Florida Sea Grant
SGEF-50 (map), December, Gainesville, Fla. (2)

Emerson Point and DeSoto Pt. Anchorage, Manatee River,
1997, Florida Sea Grant SGEF-52 (map), September,
Gainesville, Fla. (2)

Longbeach/Longboat Pass Anchorage, Sarasota Bay, 1997,
Florida Sea Grant SGEF-49 (map), September, Gainesville, Fla. (2)

NOAA/Marine Chart Division and Florida Sea Grant, 1999,
Prototype Photo-Chart 11425, Florida: Charlotte Harbor to
Tampa Bay. (1)

Recreational Opportunities for the Boater: Sarasota Bay
Blueways (map), 1999, Florida Sea Grant and Sarasota Bay
National Estuary Program, Gainesville and Sarasota, Fla. (6)

Sarasota Bay Boating Environment, 1997, Florida Sea Grant
SGEF-54 (map), December, Gainesville, Fla. (2)

Sarasota Island Park Anchorage, Sarasota Bay, 1997, Florida
Sea Grant SGEF-53 (map), September, Gainesville, Fla. (2)

Waterfront Boating Access
Antonini, Gustavo A. Frederick Bell, Elliot Kampert,
Charles Sidman, Robert Swett and Howard Tupper, 1997, Plan-
ning for Public Boating Access: A Geographic Information Sys-
tems Approach to Evaluate Site Suitability for Future Marinas, Ramps
and Docks, TP-87, April, Florida Sea Grant, Gainesville, Fla. (7)

Tupper, Howard M., and Gustavo A. Antonini, 1996, Ma-
rine Use Regulatory Study for Charlotte County, Florida, Florida
Sea Grant TP-82, February, Gainesville, Fla. (7)

Sources of Publications
(1) Florida Sea Grant Program
PO. Box 110400, University of Florida, Gainesville, Fl 32611
(2)West Coast Inland Navigation District
PO. Box 1845, Venice, Fl 34284-1845
(3) Boaters' Action & Information League
5835 Wildwood Ave., Sarasota, Fl 34231
(4) Sarasota County Natural Resources Dept.
P.O. 8, Sarasota, FI 34230
(5) Manatee County Environmental Management Dept.
PO. Box 1000, Bradenton, Fl 34206-1000
(6) Sarasota Bay National Estuary Program
5333 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, Fl 34234
(7) Charlotte County Planning Dept.
18500 Murdock Circle, Pt. Charlotte, Fl 33948-1094

Wetlands areas
with wet or spongy
soil, such as
swamps or tidal
flats are essential
to the health and
ecological vitality
of the bay.


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