In Anna Maria, Florida, there is white sand everywhere. In fact, the island is mostly sand, and it has been slowly disappearing into the waves about 10-15 feet per year. Some coastal dwellings are built on stilts. In 2014, a major beach renourishment project employed bulldozers and a dredge barge to replenish eroded sand.
Islanders have also endeavoured in recent years to replace exotic plants from far-flung geographical regions with native plants, which need less water and fertilizer, and create less waste. Some examples of trees suitable for coastal planting are: the gumbo-limbo tree, buttonwood, firebush, Christmas berry, Florida privet, Jamaican caper, and native palms. Groundcover may include beach elder and sunflower, Jessamine, coral honeysuckle, golden creeper, railroad vine, sea oats, and yellowtop.
The Timucua were the first residents of the Bradenton area east of Anna Maria Island. Sarasota Bay also served as an important waterway for the Tocobago and Calusa tribes until the 14th century. Middens they created out of large mounds of shells can still be seen.
According to legend, the Manatee River was named for the gentle sea cows that have been swimming in its inlets for as long as anyone can remember. The first European homesteader arrived in the area in 1842.
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