2020 Sampling of Florida Bay Fish Reveal Improving Everglades Water Conditions

The fish community could be showing an Everglades moving in the right direction.

The Everglades Science Center team regularly monitors fish species in Taylor Slough, where the Everglades meets Northeast Florida Bay, as freshwater species indicate the ecosystem is receiving enough freshwater. During the sampling year from June 2020 through April 2021, 14.2% of fish captured were freshwater species. Center staff recorded very few species that depended on moderate salinity and virtually no high salinity species.

This is a good sign. Fish that thrive in low salinity conditions show that the community could be moving back towards one dominated by freshwater species, which would mean a greater abundance of fish available to predators like the Roseate Spoonbill. 

By comparison, the three-year average annual percent of freshwater species captured prior to this year was 6.1%. On a positive note, this year, Bluefin Killifish were a significant portion of the catch. This species takes a relatively long time to recolonize habitat once it has been too salty, so an increase in their numbers points to freshening of water in this basin.

Although these findings show a tremendous improvement over the last three years, it still falls well short of the target of having freshwater species make up more than 40% of the catch. To complicate matters, the Spotted Tilapia — an invasive species — dominated the freshwater catch this year.

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