Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge


Kemps Ridley sea turtle
A Kemps Ridley sea turtle on a beach in the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge
Pelican landing in water

The Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge reaches from Key West to Marathon, across the biologically rich waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Bay north of the main Florida Keys. While the designated area covers nearly 200,000 acres, only about 6,200 acres is actually on land (and about 1,900 acres of that land is designated as Wilderness Area). Great White Heron NWR was established on October 27, 1938 primarily as a haven for great white herons, migratory seabirds and other indigenous wildlife. In some areas you might find Green and Loggerhead sea turtle nests. Critically endangered Hawksbill turtles also pass through here at times, sometimes even stopping to lay eggs...

Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge is administered as part of the National Key Deer Refuge Complex.

A Hawksbill turtle in the water at Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge
A Hawksbill turtle in the water at Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge