CALOOSAHATCHEE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE 1 Wildlife Drive Sanibel, Florida 33957
The Caloosahatchee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), administered as a satellite refuge of J.N. "Ding" Darling NWR, is located in Lee County on the Caloosahatchee River within the city of Fort Myers. The refuge was established by President Woodrow Wilson on July 1, 1920, through Executive Order 3299 as a ". . . preserve and breeding ground for native birds". Originally, the Caloosahatchee refuge consisted of several mangrove islands. However, shoreline development, dredging of the river, and construction of the I-75 bridge has changed the physical arrangement and appearance of these islands. Today, the refuge still remains approximately 40 acres of mangrove shorelines and upland island habitats. The refuge is located adjacent to the Florida Power and Light Company's Orange River Power Plant and the Orange River's outflow. The warm water outflow from the power plant is a major wintering area for the endangered West Indian manatee.
Access to the waters surrounding the islands that make up Caloosahatchee NWR is by boat only. The islands are not accessible to visitors. Boaters should consult navigational charts and tide schedules before attempting to visit any waters surrounding the refuge. Numerous oyster bars and shallow back bay/estuary waters are difficult to navigate and fragile seagrass beds must not be damaged. By boat, the refuge is located under the I-75 bridge as you head up the Caloosahatchee River. Boaters should note boat speed restrictions strictly enforced for the protection of the West Indian manatee. For more information, contact the J.N. "Ding" Darling NWR, 1 Wildlife Drive, Sanibel, Florida 33957 or call (239) 472-1100.