Another important feature dominating the Keys is the Everglades. This massive wetland ecosystem encompasses the Kissimmee River Basin, Lake Okeechobee, and all land south through the Big Cypress National Preserve and the Everglades National Park. The flow of nutrient-rich fresh water produced by this vast wetland ecosystem is south and west, and is received by the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Bay. Hence, the estuarine environment of Florida Bay is the interface between the Everglades watershed and the marine environment of the Florida Keys.
The influences of the Everglades, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Gulf Stream on Florida Bay are subtle but sublime, and it is this conjunction of natural forces that make the Florida Keys like no other place on Earth. It is this synergism that has resulted in the evolution of a fishery that is globally unique.