The Science: Freshwater and Snook

It’s pretty amazing how much science is out there about the impacts of changing freshwater flow to estuaries. We’re constantly on the lookout for new information, and in a recent search came across about how these changes impact one of our favorite gamefish–snook,

Indian River Lagoon Snook Tagging
Tagging juvenile Indian River Lagoon snook for research | Photo: M.G./TBOW

Working in Charlotte Harbor (one of the places currently impacted by this water mismanagement mess), scientists from Mote Marine Lab looked at the diet of juvenile snook in mangrove creeks. What they found scared us. They compared the diets of juvenile snook in mangrove creeks with natural freshwater flow to snook in creeks with changed freshwater flows. They found that snook in creeks with natural flow did a lot better–twice as many of them had food in their stomachs when they were sampled, and they had twice as many different types of prey in their stomachs. In other words, the snook in natural creeks had more to eat and didn’t have to work as hard to find food. The scientists said that this means that the juvenile snook in the bad creeks probably grew slower and weren’t as strong, which probably resulted in fewer of them surviving to become adults. That doesn’t paint a good picture for the future of the snook fishery in Florida.

Here is a link to the research:
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