Indian River is not actually a river at all. A lot of locals don't even
realize that, but what we all know as the Indian River
is actually just a salt water inlet - part of an extensive
lagoon system that has been 240,000 years in the making.
Salt water from the
Atlantic and fresh water runoff from creeks, rivers and
canals mix together to make the brackish waters of the
Indian River Lagoon. A narrow stip of barrier islands separate
the lagoon from the Atlantic ocean, and inlets let
the sea water through in several places.
You get a mix of salt
and fresh-water birds and wildlife in the lagoon. Dolphins,
pelicans and manta rays stay in the saltier water, and
manatees, alligators and otters stay mostly in the fresh
water. Occasionally an individual may wander a bit far
from home - gators have been seen in both the intracoastal
and the ocean, and dolphins sometimes go up the creeks.
Manatees living in the
lagoon come around while a boat is being hosed down
to drink the fresh water running off. They are often seen
in brackish water, but live, mate and raise their babies
in fresh water.
The intracoastal lagoon
and the seashore are quite different environments from
the marsh, but beautiful and interesting in their own ways,
with much different scenery and wildlife.