A visit to Daytona Beach is sure to be filled with fun entertainment like family water parks, fast cars and Smithsonian-affiliated museums — but did you know that adventure can come naturally here, too? Besides 23 miles of expansive, beautiful beaches and the bright Florida sunshine that our visitors know and love, Daytona Beach is brimming with wildlife. From the fish in the inlet to the endangered scrub jays in the sky, there is an abundance of wildlife to explore here.

The Daytona Beach area’s vastly diverse ecosystems provide the ideal habitat for an array of creatures. Protecting the animal populations, restoring natural environments and sharing the wonder of our wildlife are top priorities here in Volusia County. So, next time you get a hankering to unplug, unwind and reconnect with the great outdoors, come to Daytona Beach and get close with nature.

What can you expect to find here? The possibilities are endless! Here are a few creatures you can keep an eye out for in the Daytona Beach area:

BIRDS

It’s widely known that Florida is a bird-watcher’s paradise. Daytona Beach’s subtropical climate and abundant natural areas make it the perfect place to flock to.

Though many birds, such as seagulls, brown pelicans and sandpipers, call Daytona Beach “home” all year long, there are many other species that pass through during the winter season. In fact, Volusia County’s public lands help provide vital breeding, overwintering, resting and refueling sites for more than 500 bird species in total!

Daytona Beach’s shoreline and coastal environment support important habitats for a variety of bird species. Some migratory species you might encounter include northern gannets, piping plovers and white pelicans.

If birding is a favorite pastime for you or your family, check out the 4 best birding excursions near Daytona Beach. Or, enjoy a unique sunset birding tour with A Day Away Kayak Tours, which will guide you through Mullethead Island as thousands of birds roost with an epic sunset as their backdrop.

SEA TURTLES

The greater Florida area is home to five species of sea turtles — loggerhead, green, leatherback, Kemp’s ridley and hawksbill. The largest sea turtle is the leatherback, which measures between 6- and 9-feet long and weighs more than 1,000 pounds when full-grown. The other sea turtle species are mostly between 2- and 4-feet long and range in weight from 100 to 500 pounds. The Kemp’s ridley is the smallest, measuring about 30 inches and weighing 80 to 100 pounds. And from May through October, female sea turtles will emerge from the water at night and crawl up onto sandy beaches to lay anywhere from 50 to 350 eggs. Two months later, about a hundred baby turtles (hatchlings) emerge from each of these nests and crawl to the ocean.

Volusia County is committed to protecting endangered sea turtles in every way possible, and is actively working with oceanfront property owners to reduce artificial lighting problems along our beaches. You can do your part to help by reviewing the do's and don’ts for sea turtle season in Daytona Beach.

Plus, you can take an educational environmental journey at Ponce Inlet’s Marine Science Center. The center features interesting exhibits, and even allows you to witness current rehabilitation efforts for injured sea turtles. Come and discover just how important — and delicate — our ecosystems are, and what you can do to protect them.

MANATEES

If you’re lucky, you can get a good look at “sea cows” — AKA manatees — on your visit to the Daytona Beach area. Gentle, mild-mannered and generally languid, the West Indian manatee is native to the area. Manatees flock to warm waters, and that’s something that this area has plenty of.

While you may happen to see a manatee as your stroll along the waterway, there are several tour options that can get you a littler closer. Consider heading south for the afternoon for a wildlife encounter tour with Calypso Kayaking. Or, if you would like the viewing experience with considerably less paddling, go for a guided boat tour along the Intracoastal Waterway. For example, with The Manatee – Scenic Boat Tours, you can choose indoor or outdoor seating for viewing dolphins, manatees, birds and more!

Although manatees seem approachable, there are strict laws in place that prohibit human interaction such as hugging, riding or grabbing. Feel free to bring your camera and touch, but bear the manatees’ well-being in mind as you do so.

Can’t get enough of nature? Explore over 10 miles of nature trials in Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge — ideal for those who love hiking. The park covers more than 21,000 acres, and it features a wildlife observation tower, bicycling trails, fishing opportunities and more. Keep your eyes peeled for egrets, herons, alligators, crabs, sea stars, stingrays and so much more!

Start planning your excursion into nature today!