This River Near Orlando Has Not Just Alligators But Sharks Too!

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A hidden gem lies just a stone's throw away from Orlando, nestled amidst the breathtakingly beautiful Brevard County.

This body of water weaves a tale of a diverse ecosystem, where the fearsome and the gentle coexist in a delicate balance that is as captivating as it is complex.

On any given day, you'll find locals and tourists alike crossing this body of water. Some are on their way to Cape Canaveral, while others are here for the thrill of the chase - casting their lines in hopes of catching the next big one.

It's not just a haven for fishermen and boaters, though. The area is also a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts, with a rich array of creatures calling it home.

You'll find endangered manatees gathering in its waters, terrapin turtles resting on its shores, and a diverse range of birds flying above its expanse. And if you're lucky, you might spot the playful dolphins and the elusive stingrays.

But what if I told you that this river offers something even more exciting? Something that would pique your interest and send a shiver down your spine?

What if I told you that lurking beneath the surface of this seemingly serene lagoon, there are not only alligators but sharks, too?

Yes, you heard that right. Alligators and sharks live in the same waters, right here, in a river just an hour's drive from Orlando.

And the name of this thrilling and diverse lagoon?

Welcome to the Banana River.

Both alligators and sharks are in this river!

The Banana River is a 31-mile-long [50 km] lagoon located on the east coast of Florida, in Brevard County. The Banana River Lagoon is part of the Indian River Lagoon system.

The Banana River does have alligators inhabiting the waters. In addition, a population of bull sharks has been found in the Banana River.

While there are mixed reviews on whether or not you can swim in the Banana River, it is generally advised against it. One reason is due to the wildlife that inhabits it.

Another reason is due to the smell of rotting seagrass. The seagrass in the Banana River is vital to the ecosystem but can release a hydrogen sulfide gas when it decays. Due to this, it may not be a pleasant smell while swimming.

In addition, there are reports of sewage spills in the Banana River. These spills can contain harmful bacteria that may make you sick if you come in contact with it.

In addition to the alligator and bull shark population, the Banana River is also home to manatees, terrapin turtles, birds, stingrays, and even dolphins.

The Banana River is one of the most important bodies of water for East Coast manatees. Manatees are endangered and often gather in the Banana River to mate and give birth. 21 other endangered or threatened species call the Banana River home.

So, while it may not be an ideal swim spot, the animal life makes it worth a visit for animal enthusiasts.

Interested in all things Orlando? This guide is for you.

An American Alligator swimming on the river

Can You Swim Where There Are Alligators?

While locals and even tourists still do it, swimming in areas where alligators are present is not advised.

Alligators are apex predators and can be dangerous to humans. In addition, alligators are often hard to spot in the water, making them even more dangerous.

If you must swim in areas where there are alligators, make sure to do so in a group and make as little noise as possible. In addition, avoid swimming at night or in murky water where alligators are hard to spot.

Lastly, always watch for alligators and be prepared to get out of the water if one is spotted.

What Are The Best Times To See Alligators?

Alligators are most active at dusk and night, so those are the best times to see them.

However, they can also be seen during the day, especially in warm weather. Alligators will bask in the sun to regulate their body temperature.

Wintertime is when your chances of viewing alligators are highest. If you want to see them in the Banana River area, then some places in Merritt Island would be your bet.

However, overall, there are places with better alligator-viewing odds. Check out this article for our list: 6 Free Alligator Viewing Options Shared By A Local

Do Bull Sharks Attack People?

Since bull sharks typically inhabit shallow waters like the Banana River, they can pose a threat to humans.

Bull sharks are one of the most aggressive sharks and have been known to attack humans. In addition, bull sharks are often hard to spot in the water, which can make them even more dangerous.

Attacks by bull sharks are relatively rare, but that doesn't mean they can't happen.

Aerial shot of the famous Florida Bull Shark

How Deep Is The Banana River?

The Banana River is a shallow lagoon with an average depth of four feet. If you go there, you will find salt marshes, seagrass beds, and mangrove forests.

In addition to being shallow, the Banana River is the smallest lagoon in the Indian River Lagoon system. The total acreage is 30,000 acres, and while that seems like a lot, it is pretty small compared to the other lagoons in the system.

The shallow depth and small size make the Banana River a unique ecosystem. The conditions are perfect for seagrass to grow, which is vital to the lagoon's health.

Can You Eat Fish From The Banana River?

You can eat fish from the Banana River if you cook it properly. There are many sought-after species for anglers, such as snook, tarpon, redfish, seatrout, and flounder.

So, if you want to do some fishing while in the area, the Banana River is a great spot; just be sure to clean and cook your fish correctly before eating.

However, staters should check the rules and regulations before fishing in Florida waters. Each state has different laws, so it is always best to check before you start fishing.

Why Is It Called The Banana River?

The Banana River gets its name from a lighthouse keeper at Cape Canaveral. The lighthouse keeper nicknamed the river after the banana trees on its banks.

Before then, the Banana River was inhabited by Native American tribes. It wasn't until European settlers arrived in the area that it was given the name Banana River.

Nowadays, the Banana River is known for its animal life and unique ecosystem. So whether you are an animal lover or just looking for a place to fish, the Banana River is worth a visit.

Can You Take Boat Tours On The Banana River?

One of the best ways to experience the Banana River is to take a boat tour. There are many different boat tours available, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

Boat tours with a local expert allow you to learn about the history and ecology of the Banana River. You can also go on a tour that focuses on bird watching or fishing.

You can see dolphins and manatees in their natural habitat during the boat tour. You may even see an alligator or two.

Lastly, the Banana River has the largest pelican rookery in North America. So, if you are a bird lover, this is the place for you.

What Is The Best Time To Visit The Banana River?

The best time to visit the Banana River is from October to May. This is the dry season in Florida, so the weather is more pleasant, and there are fewer mosquitoes.

In addition, the weather isn't nearly as humid, so you can enjoy being outdoors without feeling too uncomfortable.

If you can make it, April and May offer the best weather. This is when the winter cold fronts are coming through, but spring blooms are beginning to appear.

During these months, you can enjoy other activities such as golfing, biking, and hiking. So if you are looking for a place to escape the cold winter months, the Banana River is a great option.

Sunset photo of a Pier at Banana River

Are There Crabs In The Banana River?

There is a healthy population of blue crabs in the Banana River. These crabs are an essential part of the food chain and help to keep the lagoon clean.

You can harvest crabs for bait or eat with a valid saltwater fishing license. Just be sure to follow the rules and regulations set forth by the state of Florida.

Before harvesting crabs, it is also a good idea to check the local conditions. This will help you to avoid overharvesting and harming the population.

What Is The Water Temperature In The Banana River?

The water temperature in the Banana River varies depending on the time of year. On average, the Banana River has a water temperature of 81 degrees Fahrenheit.

Technically, being a lagoon, the water doesn't have a fast current, so the water temperature is usually pretty stable. However, the water can get up to 86 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months.

Final Thoughts

Aerial shot of the Banana River, Florida

As you can see, the Banana River plays a significant role in Florida's ecology. It is home to many different species of animals, and it is a great place to fish.

The Banana River is an excellent option if you want a place to enjoy the outdoors. Just be sure to check the rules and regulations before you visit to have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Made it to the end? Here are other articles you might enjoy:

Blue Spring State Park, FL: A Visitor's Guide

What To Do At The Gulf Islands National Seashore

What's The Best Time To Visit Pensacola, FL?

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