About the Refuge

Brown Pelicans 512W Enhanced

Because of its small size and importance to wildlife,
the refuge is closed to all public use.

Passage Key is located at the mouth of Tampa Bay in Manatee County, south of Egmont Key. President Theodore Roosevelt established Passage Key NWR in 1905 to preserve nesting colonies of native seabirds and wading birds. In the early 1900's Passage Key was a 60-acre mangrove island with a freshwater lake. Today, Passage Key is a low-lying sandbar that fluctuates in size, and is found often completely below water during high tide.

More than 50 species of birds have used this small area including nesting American oystercatchers, black skimmers, royal and sandwich terns, and laughing gulls.
Due to its value to resting seabirds, shorebirds and wading birds,
Passage Key NWR is closed to public use year-round.

Refuge Objectives

  • Provide nesting, feeding and resting habitat for colonial water birds including laughing gulls, royal terns, black skimmers, sandwich terns, brown pelicans and oyster catchers.

  • Provide critical habitat and protection for thousands of shore birds and water birds.