Sarasota Bay with Ringling Bridge


Sarasota Bay is a coastal lagoon formed by a necklace of barrier islands to the west and the mainland of Manatee and Sarasota Counties to the east. This coastal lagoon, with its unique embayments, tidal tributaries, small creeks, coves, inlets, and passes, is bounded by Anna Maria Sound to the north and the area just north of Venice Inlet to the south.

Whitaker-Bayou - Greg-Wahl

Whitaker-Bayou - Greg-Wahl

Bay Statistics:

  • Watershed size – 455 square miles
  • Length – approximately 56 miles long
  • Average depth – 6.5 feet
  • Population – approximately 600,000


Sarasota Bay is made of a series of smaller bays or embayments including Palma Sola Bay, Sarasota Bay proper, Roberts Bay, Little Sarasota Bay, and Blackburn Bay. Each embayment is unique. They differ in overall size, shape, water depth, shoreline features, habitat, and sediment characteristics. This leads to differences in water circulation, freshwater inputs, nutrient loads, and other variables impacting on the Bay’s health and vitality. Because of these differences, each embayment must be analyzed and managed independently.


Tributaries are creeks or streams that direct stormwater from the adjacent lands (watershed) and discharge it into a particular embayment. The primary tributaries include Bowlees Creek, Whitaker Bayou and Hudson Bayou (Sarasota Bay proper), Phillippi Creek (Roberts Bay), Catfish Creek and North Creek (Little Sarasota Bay), and South Creek (Blackburn Bay).

Water Atlas