Hyperspectral imaging sensors greatly expand the potential of remote sensing to assess, map, and monitor marine coastal zones. Each pixel in a hyperspectral image contains an entire spectrum of information. As a result, hyperspectral image data can be processed in two very different ways: by image classification techniques, to produce mapped outputs of features in the image on a regional scale; and by use of spectral analysis of the spectral data embedded within each pixel of the image. The latter is particularly useful in marine coastal zones because of the spectral complexity of suspended as well as benthic features found in these environments. Spectral-based analysis of hyperspectral (AVIRIS) imagery was carried out to investigate a marine coastal zone of South Florida, USA. Florida Bay is a phytoplankton-rich estuary characterized by taxonomically distinct phytoplankton assemblages and extensive seagrass beds. End-member spectra were extracted from AVIRIS image data corresponding to ground-truth sample stations and well-known field sites. Spectral libraries were constructed from the AVIRIS end-member spectra and used to classify images using the Spectral Angle Mapper (SAM) algorithm, a spectral-based approach that compares the spectrum in each pixel of an image with each spectrum in a spectral library. Using this approach different phytoplankton assemblages containing diatoms, cyanobacteria, and green microalgae, as well as benthic community (seagrasses), were mapped.