One of the great things about living in the Tampa Bay area is the opportunity to be close to nature within a short drive of urban areas. A visit to Clam Bayou in the heart of bustling Pinellas County is a fine example of how easy it can be to get up close and personal with a thriving estuary with its native habitat and wildlife.
Clam Bayou is a 170-acre estuary surrounded by the cities of Gulfport to the west, St. Petersburg to the north and east, and Boca Ciega Bay to the south. A 10-acre nature preserve hugs the bayou, a mix of upland, marsh and mangrove habitat offering trails for walking and bicycling, observation decks and docks for fishing.
But the main reason to visit Clam Bayou is to paddle through the magnificently restored estuary. Over decades, untreated stormwater runoff and dumping brought oil, fertilizer, tires, shopping carts, trash and other debris into the bayou turning it into a polluted and barren pool. A multi-agency and community effort over the past 17 years led to the restoration of the property , a $5 million project engineered and completed in three phases by the Southwest Florida Water Management Surface Water Improvement and Management ( SWIM) Program. The effort included numerous volunteer cleanups, invasive plant removals and native plantings.
Clam Bayou, Pinellas County
Today Clam Bayou is a functioning water body on its way to becoming a thriving and clean ecosystem. The work restored 64 acres of estuarine and coastal habitats and created 20 acres of ponds to treat stormwater runoff. Unknowing paddlers today would be shocked to learn about the former state of this now beautiful area!
Launch your own kayak or canoe from the nature preserve (no charge) or rent one from Kayak Nature Adventures located in the adjacent marina. Within minutes you'll find yourself surrounded by a healthy marine ecosystem. Look for soaring osprey, woodpeckers and herons, and jumping mullet. Watch for the Manatee Zone signs and you may even see a few gentle sea cows which have been spotted munching on the seagrasses.
Best of all, you're likely to have the place to yourself - Clam Bayou's location on the edge of a residential neighborhood makes it a hidden oasis.
Clam Bayou Nature Park is located at 29th Avenue S. and Miriam Street S. in Gulfport.
For more info visit:
» http://www.stpeteparksrec.org/clam-bayou-nature-preserve.html ∞
» http://kayaknature.com/kayaking-clam-bayou/ ∞
» Kayak Nature Adventures ∞ rents kayaks and paddleboards out
of the Gulfport Municipal Marina across from the kayak launch. Guided tours of Clam Bayou with ecotour operator Kurt Zuelsdorf are available and
recommended for beginners. Be sure to check the tides before setting out in Clam Bayou as you will need to plan your paddle at high tide. The
bayou is close to the Gulf and tidally influenced.