The Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge stretches across 20.5 miles between Melbourne Beach and Wabasso Beach along Florida's east coast in Brevard and Indian River Counties. The refuge was established in 1991 and was named after the late Dr. Archie Carr, Jr., in honor of his extraordinary contribution to sea turtle conservation. The Refuge is a direct result of Dr. Carr bringing attention to the world's declining turtle populations due to over-exploitation and loss of safe habitat.
The refuge was designated to protect habitat for what is the most significant area for loggerhead sea turtle nesting in the world, and the most significant area for green turtle nesting in North America. This represents 20-35% of all loggerhead and green sea turtle nests in the US. It also serves as a minor nesting area for the leatherback sea turtle, which is one of the world's largest and rarest sea turtles. The long stretches of quiet, undisturbed sandy beaches, with little or no artificial light, are essential to the reproductive success and survival of the 15,000 to 30,000 sea turtles nests we receive annually.
The 258-acre refuge is also unique for its placement within a patchwork of protected lands and among properties that have already been developed. To help preserve this globally important nesting ground the Service has established a partnership with state and county governments and private conservation groups to acquire and manage this dune habitat. The primary management thrust is to provide long term protection of this habitat for sea turtles and other listed species as well as providing compatible public use. Collaboratively, this partnership, known as the Archie Carr Working Group has protected over 2,600 acres and continues to educate thousands of residents and visitors about the unique characteristics of the barrier island ecosystem.