109 South Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459 | (850) 200-4171 | cba@nwfsc.edu

In the Choctawhatchee Bay

Choctawhatchee Bay stretches over 30 miles from one end to the other, forming the terminus of the Choctawhatchee watershed. CBA monitors water quality and seagrass in the bay, while restoring the coastline with living shorelines and reef breakwaters.

The Choctawhatchee Bay, fed primarily by the Choctawhatchee River, stretches more than 30 miles, with widths ranges from 4 to 6 miles across. East Pass between Destin and Okaloosa Island provides the primary outflow into the Gulf of Mexico, which also rushes into the bay during high tides. Additionally, the Choctawhatchee Bay connects to the Santa Rosa Sound through the Intracoastal Waterway.

The bay is popular for swimming, fishing, paddleboarding, kayaking, and boating. Rare species call the bay their home, including the gulf sturgeon and alligator gar.



CBA works with 3rd and 5th graders across Okaloosa and Walton Counties to learn about marsh ecosystems, raise smooth cordgrass, and restore real shorelines. Through Grasses in Classes, students are inspired to become the next generation of water stewards.

Oyster Shell Recycling and Living Shorelines
Oyster shell, recycled from local restaurants, is used in living shorelines to create reef breakwaters. Living shorelines provide habitat for wildlife while reducing shoreline erosion.

Water Quality Monitoring
Every month CBA staff and water quality monitoring volunteers head out to the bay to measure salinity, pH, sedimentation, light attenuation, and so much more.


Ongoing and innovative research within unique ecosystems is an integral component of CBA’s work. We partner with agencies, local nonprofits, research universities, and the Mattie Kelly Environmental Institute on a wide range of water quality and ecology projects.

The coastal dune lakes are currently at the forefront of CBA’s work. Ongoing and innovative research within these water bodies is imperative to our understanding of these rare coastal formations. Current research on the coastal dune lakes includes water chemistry, plant communities, and fish diversity. As of yet, fish identification data is very limited on the lakes and has the potential to provide valuable supporting information for further conservation of such systems. Each study supports the others, together seeking to provide a comprehensive understanding of the functioning and importance of the local coastal dune lakes. All coastal dune lake research endeavors are undertaken jointly with the Mattie Kelly Environmental Institute.


Research Projects

Water Chemistry in Choctawhatchee Bay, Florida, USA: Spatial and Temporal Considerations Based on Volunteer Collected Data

Florida LAKEWATCH: Citizen Scientists Protecting Florida’s Aquatic Systems

Chain of Eutrophication Models for Assessing the Potential Impact of Nutrient Enrichment on Choctawhatchee Bay, Florida, USA

Delaware University – Evaluation of Gulf Sturgeon Habitat

Florida State University – Effects of Climate Change on Choctawhatchee Watershed

University of Central Florida – Dolphin Study in Santa Rosa Sound

University of Central Florida – Creek-dwelling Turtle Communities and Associated Water Quality in Four Streams at Nokuse Plantation in 2008

University of West Florida – Water Quality in Cinco Bayou and Garner Bayou

University of Florida – Hydrology Study on the Coastal Dune Lakes

University of Florida – Nutrient Loading, Seagrass Coverage and Land-use Changes

University of West Florida – Nutrient Enrichment in Oyster Lake

University of West Florida – Red Tide Study in Cinco Bayou and Garner Bayou

University of West Florida – Spatial and Temporal Variability in Karenia Brevis in Western Choctawhatchee Bay

University of West Florida – Undergraduate Field Research Experience

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission – Seagrass Monitoring

109 South Greenway Trail
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
(850) 200-4171
Copyright © 2022 Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance - All Rights Reserved.
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