Sarasota Bay with recreational vessels

Watershed Management

Everyone lives in a watershed. A watershed is the area of land where water flows from higher elevations to the lowest point which is the Bay. The Sarasota Bay watershed has seen significant changes due to the pressures of an ever-growing population and ongoing urban development. And no matter where our home is located in the watershed, whether on the coast or miles inland, our actions directly influence the health of Sarasota Bay. Every yard is connected to the Bay directly or indirectly through a series of tributaries and the drainage system.

Tributaries & Embayments

The Sarasota Bay watershed is drained by tributaries, which are waterways that take water from the watershed, collect it and conduct it into the Sarasota Bay estuarine system. The primary tributaries that drain into Sarasota Bay are Bowles Creek, North Creek, Catfish Creek, Whitaker Bayou, Hudson Bayou, Phillipi Creek and South Creek.

Sarasota Bay is made of a series of smaller bays or embayments. At the southern end of the system you begin with Blackburn Bay and then moving north you have Little Sarasota Bay, Roberts Bay, the Big Pass area, the main bay segment and finally the most northerly section, the Anna Maria sound area.

Sarasota Bay Watershed Map

Where’s Your Watershed?

To learn more about watersheds at home and throughout the state of Florida visit the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s watershed education website The site includes overviews of each major watershed in Florida, along with the latest restoration news, contact info and interactive maps.

A Guide to Understanding and Protecting the Southern Coastal Watershed pdf