Boat Groundings

grounded boat

NPS image

Below the crystal clear water of Biscayne Bay lies an important and fragile world of seagrass meadows. This ecosystem is significant to the health and vitality of the park and wildlife. Seagrasses help stabilize sediments on the bay bottom and keep the water clear. They provide nurseries for shrimp, lobster and many fish, and ideal grazing for manatees, turtles, urchins and other sea creatures.

Seagrass meadows and coral reefs may be damaged extensively by watercraft. Propeller scars provide visible reminders of this. The seagrass meadows could take years to recover or may never grow back. Running into the meadows and reefs also damages or destroys boats. Attempting to power out of the seagrass often pulls sediment into engine cooling systems and blows large holes in the meadows. Powering off is also illegal.

With your help and care, the wonderful resources of the park will be around, in all their splendor, for future generations to enjoy.

Come prepared -
  • Use nautical charts
  • See tide predictions
  • Use electronic navigation/GPS equipment
  • Learn how to read the water and wear polarized sunglasses
  • Watch the weather
  • In restricted visibility, slow down
Grounded boats should -
  • STOP! Attempting to power off can cause significant damage to boats and to park resources
  • Trim the motor up
  • Try to push or pole the boat off, following the route entered
  • Wait for high tide in order to drift free
  • Call for commercial assistance on VHF channel 16
Color indicators -
  • Brown, brown, run aground! - this color indicates the sea bottom is close to the surface.
  • White, white, you just might! - sand bars and rubble areas may be much shallower than they appear.
  • Green, green, nice and clean! - generally safe for shallow draft boats, larger deeper draft vessels should exercise caution.
  • Blue, blue, cruise on through! - clear sailing in deep water areas.
Improve your boating skills with free boating education classes

Last updated: July 24, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

9700 SW 328th Street
Sir Lancelot Jones Way

Homestead, FL 33033


(305) 230-1144

Contact Us