The islands provide a protected nesting habitat for rare species, including American Oystercatchers and Least Terns, to complete their reproductive cycle. Each year, the islands become one of the bay area’s prime nesting sites, hosting thousands of nesting birds. In 2021, the port’s dredge material management areas and spoil islands experienced a great diversity of nesting shorebird species. The spoil island, called 3D, hosted nearly 4,100 pairs of nesting birds made up of several species of tern (including the Least Tern), American Oystercatchers, Black Skimmers, and others. The port’s spoil island just to the north, 2D, saw six pairs of American Oystercatchers, which are a threatened species.
“Port Tampa Bay is committed to upholding the health and sustainability of our area waters and take pride in our role as an environmental leader in the maritime industry and in the Tampa Bay Community. We welcome the thousands of migratory nesting birds who make our spoil islands their home each summer and encourage everyone to do their part to protect the species that thrive there,” explained Paul Anderson, Port Tampa Bay President and CEO.
“Hillsborough Bay continues to be one of the most important bird nesting sites in the entire state. Audubon looks forward to another productive year for some of Florida’s most iconic birds thanks to the cooperation and stewardship of the Port and our many partners,” said Mark Rachal, Sanctuary Manager, Audubon Florida.