AOML's Ocean Chemistry and Ecosystems Division

Juvenile Sportfish Research in Florida Bay

The saltwater recreational fishery adjacent to the Everglades generates approximately $880 million and greater then 6,000 jobs per year. This area includes Florida Bay, which not only supports a substantial recreational fishing industry within its waters, but also serves as a nursery ground for many of the adjacent commercial and recreational reef fishery species. These commercial and recreational fishery species within Florida Bay will be affected by Everglades restoration as it aims to restore Florida Bay to a less disturbed state by minimizing hypersalinity. One of the best indicators for estuarine health is spotted seatrout (Cynscion nebulosus). Cynscion nebulosus is a good indicator, because it spends its entire life within the bay it was spawned and is sensitive to fluctuations in water quality including salinity. Additionally, Cynscion nebulosus is the second most commonly caught sportfish in Florida Bay, accounting for approximately 30% of all catch.

We have partnered with NOAA's Southeast Fisheries Science Center (NOAA/SEFSC) to investigate how juvenile sportfish in Florida Bay respond to water quality and habitat. This project conducts otter trawls to sample the juvenile sportfish populations, along with water quality and seagrass measurements in Florida Bay. The objectives are to 1) develop reference conditions that can be used as a baseline to evaluate trends in juvenile spotted seatrout populations) and quantify the impacts of Everglades Restoration; (2) develop a juvenile abundance index (mean abundance and frequency of occurrence) and determine if annual differences in abundance occur among areas in the Bay; (3) examine the relationship between juvenile spotted seatrout abundance, salinity, temperature, and seagrass; use this analysis to gain insights into the potential response of spotted seatrout to CERP; and (4) determine the salinity preference for other juvenile sportfish in Florida Bay.

Contact Information for OCED/EAM Juvenile Sportfish Research in Florida Bay Researchers: