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Marine Animals on a Key West Sandbar Charter

Marine Animals on a Key West Sandbar Charter

One of the best things about taking a Key West sandbar charter is watching marine animals at play. Marine mammals, sharks, turtles, and fish love swimming in the Key’s warm tropical waters. If you get the opportunity to boat to the sandbar, keep your eyes peeled for the diverse variety of animals enjoying Key West waters.

Key West Sandbar Marine Life

While tourists flock to Key West to enjoy the fun party vibe, tropical drinks, gorgeous weather, and clear waters, fish and marine life love it here too. The reef, seagrass, and mangroves provide a diverse ecosystem for marine life to breed, find food, and hide from prey.

Here’s a list of the marine animals you might see during a Key West sandbar charter.


• Turtles
• Nurse Sharks
• Lemon Sharks
• Dolphins
• Southern Stingrays
• Eagle Rays
• Cownose Rays
• Manatees
• Blue Crab
• Conch
• Ballyhoo
• Snappers
• Bonefish
• Barracuda

Turtle in Key West


Sea turtles are so much fun to watch! Who doesn’t love Crush (the turtle from Finding Nemo)? You don’t have to be lost to enjoy watching turtles. 

While Crush was depicted chilling, Key West’s turtles often dart out of the way when they see fast-approaching boats.

The Keys are home to Green, Hawksbill, Loggerhead, and Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles. Turtles love munching on jellyfish and are often seen gliding over the reef or enjoying seagrass beds. Keep your eyes peeled and avoid fast movements if you want to watch sea turtles at play.


The idea of seeing a shark delights some and horrifies others. People aren’t good eating, so most reports of shark bites happen when sharks get confused in murky water or when the shark is after a speared fish. There has never been a fatal shark bite in Key West. You’re more likely to die from a vending machine accident!


Nurse sharks are often seen chilling in sandy patches. These non-aggressive nocturnal animals feed at night. Their discerning palate focuses on lobsters, squid, and bony fish. They have good taste! 

Lemon sharks have a yellow tint and are often seen cruising along the reef or wandering the sandbars. They rely on their nose’s magnetic sensor to find food and often eat small prey, crustaceans, and mollusks. Other sharks seen in the Keys include the Bonnethead, Hammerhead, Tiger, Blacktip, and Bull sharks.   

Key West Sandbar
Bottlenose Dolphin In Key West


Dolphins are everyone’s favorite marine mammal, and they often delight visitors by playing in our boat’s wake or leaping through the air. They seem to enjoy showing off and having a good time.

Key West is home to Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins. These marine mammals are between 6 and 13 feet long and travel in pods. They use echolocation to determine their location and find food. 

Dolphins are seen all over the Keys and might be cruising the reef or enjoying the backcountry.  Key West has a shallow backcountry area known as the Dolphin Playground. Here, dolphins work together to create a plume of mud. The resting fish are disturbed, and the dolphins dart through the mud for a tasty fish snack.


A variety of rays call Key West home. Southern stingrays, Spotted Eagle Rays, and Cownose stingrays are commonly seen in our area. 

Spotted Eagle Rays often put on a show for visitors by jumping out of the water.  These graceful rays sometimes swim alone and sometimes swim in groups. 

Southern stingrays bury themselves in the sand. While they have a bad rap, stingrays only use their barbed spines for self-defense. If you are wading in shallow sandy areas, do the “stingray shuffle” to let the stingrays know you are coming. 

Cownose rays have high-domed heads. They swim along the seafloor and search for food such as clams. They suck up prey, crush their shells, and eat the soft bodies.

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Manatees are the official Florida Marine Mammal. This beloved creature is large and slow-moving. 

Manatees are sometimes called sea cows due to their large bulky appearance. They weigh around 1,000 pounds and grow to about 10 feet long. 

They eat marine plants and love warm, shallow water. Manatees are often seen cruising the backcountry.


Horseshoe Crabs love the soft sandy bottoms of the Florida Keys sandbars.  This species of crab has been on earth for more than 300 million years, that makes them older than dinosaurs!

Blue crabs can be found in Key West’s brackish, saline, and fresh ecosystems. While you might order one for dinner tonight, these creatures are fun to watch in the wild. 

Blue crabs are known for their bright blue claws. Female blue crabs have claws that are tipped in red.

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Watch the sandbars and flats and you might find a conch crawling along. Conch is often served in Keys establishments, and conch fritters are a perennial menu favorite. 

Conchs have beautiful shells and are an icon of Key West. In fact, Key West is often called the Conch Republic, and Key West natives are called conchs. 

Although you might spot an over-imbibing conch in the mirror, the conchs you’ll see in the wild are just taking their time and enjoying the sandbar.


Fish abound near Key West sandbars, and you are likely to see a variety swimming along. 

Ballyhoo are a baitfish with a fun name. These shiny fish are between 6-inches and 12-inches long and might be chased by mahi-mahi, marlin, tuna, and wahoo. 

Key West is home to a variety of snappers. Yellowtail Snappers are usually found in deeper waters, but Mutton and Mangrove Snappers are often found hiding in mangroves and grass beds. Red Snappers cruise shallow waters and are often seen in Key West. 

Bonefish love shallow sandy waters but are skittish. If you are quiet, you might get lucky and see one of these beautiful ghosts.

Barracuda are beautiful and can be quite intimidating. They can weigh up to 30 lbs and swim up to 40 mph. These curious creatures often like to hang out and stare at visitors. While they have a mouthful of creepy teeth, they won’t bite you unless you bite them.

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Image by macg from Pixabay 



Take a Key West Sandbar Charter and Make Some New Friends

private Key West Sandbar charter is one of the best ways to enjoy the sandbar and discover unique marine wildlife. A private charter offers you and your group the ultimate private getaway.

Dolphins and other wildlife are more likely to be curious about a small boat, and dolphins love to jump in our boat’s wake. Join Captain Zak and experience the adventure of a lifetime. Book your Key West Sandbar charter now!

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