Description - Hobe South National Wildlife Refuge is a unique area with several plant communities. These communities are described through the refuge's visitor center, which highlights the importance of the federal oceanfront tract. Most of these plant communities have been devastated through development and are now under protective watch. Low impact recreation is permitted.
Copyright: - US Fish and Wildlife Service
Common Birdlife at National Wildlife Refuge
- Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge is a coastal refuge with three basic and distinct plant communities: coastal sand dune, mangrove swamps, and sand pine-scrub oak forest. The 735-acre Jupiter Island beach tract provides some of the most productive sea turtle nesting beach in the United States. The 232-acre mainland tract is on the Atlantic coastal ridge. The mainland tract habitat is composed of sand pine with an understory of Chapman oak, sand live oak, and myrtle oak.
A devastating fire in the early 1970's set back succession on a portion of the area. The naturally poor soil conditions have resulted in slow recovery. Although the tract is small, its value is magnified by the fact that over 90 percent of this community type in South Florida has been lost to development.
Sand pine scrub is restricted to Florida and an adjacent county in Alabama. The Jupiter Island tract is divided into mangrove swamp, which is located between the Intracoastal Waterway, and the coastal sand dune along the Atlantic Ocean. In the regularly flooded, undisturbed mangrove swamps, vegetation is primarily red mangrove with scattered white mangrove and black mangrove. The coastal sand dune is composed of the fore dunes bordering the beach, and the more protected back dunes. On the fore dunes, normally only pioneer plants such as sea oats, sea purslane, and railroad vine are able to maintain themselves in a harsh environment of shifting sand and salt spray.
Unfortunately, the exotic Australian pine severely invaded the dune, displacing native species and interfering with sea turtle nesting. A rigorous removal and control program started in 1983. The back dunes are characterized by such woody plants as sea grape , wax myrtle, saw palmetto, and occasional scrub oaks. Such plants, especially the fore dune type, play an important role in stabilizing dune soils and slowing the rate of erosion.
Recreation - Visitors to the 735-acre beachfront refuge will find fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities. The Fish and Wildlife Service offers educational programs enhanced through its visitor center.
Climate - Southern Florida lies within a subtropical climate. It is usually hot and humid in the summer with brief afternoon thundershowers. It is not unusual for temperatures to exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit with averages reaching above 83 degrees Fahrenheit (above 29 Celsius). Winters are mild and dry with temperatures averaging above 64 degrees Fahrenheit (above 18 Celsius). The average precipitation for the southeast area is more than 60 inches per year. The powerful rays of the sun make it a good idea to wear hats and sunglasses along with using a SPF-15 (or above) sunscreen when planning outdoor activities.
Hobe South National Wildlife Refuge is located along the Atlantic Ocean at Jupiter Island about midway between St. Lucie Inlet State Park and Hobe South Beach.