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South Florida Aquatic Environments

Estuarine and Marine Waters



FISH
Goliath Grouper
© Don DeMaria

Goliath Grouper


Estuarine and Marine Waters:

Native Fauna: Fish

  • Shallow waters of Florida Bay offer protection to juvenile fish from open water predators
Many commercially and recreationally important fish reside in Florida Bay during at least part of their life history, migrating offshore to spawn. The fertilized eggs develop into larvae and are transported to estuaries and bays by currents and tides. The seagrasses, mangroves, and shallow waters offer protection from open water predators. Gamefish that are commonly found in the marine and estuarine waters of the Everglades include both tropical and temperate species.


Common game fish:

Crevalle Jack
courtesy NOAA

Crevalle Jack

Gray Snapper
courtesy NOAA

Gray Snapper

Sheepshead
© David Snyder

Sheepshead

Great Barracuda
© Bob Klemow

Great Barracuda


Common non-game fish:

  • Scaled sardine (Harengula jaguana)
  • Atlantic thread herring (Opisthonema oglinum )
  • Hardhead catfish (Arius felis)
  • Inshore lizardfish (Synodus foetens)
  • Gulf toadfish (Opsanus beta)
  • Hardhead halfbeak (Chriodorus atherinoides)
  • Silverstripe halfbeak (Hyporamphus unifasciatus)
  • Redfin needlefish (Strongylura notata)
  • Goldspotted killifish (Floridichthys carpio)
  • Rainwater killifish (Lucania parva)
  • Fringed pipefish (Anarchopterus criniger)
  • Dwarf seahorse (Hippocampus zosterae)
  • Gulf pipefish (Syngnathus scovelli)
  • Silver jenny (Eucinostomus gula)
  • Tidewater mojarra (Eucinostomus harengulus)
  • Pinfish (Lagodon rhomboides)
  • Striped mullet (Mugil cephalus)
  • White mullet (Mugil curema)
  • Fantail mullet (Mugil gyrans)
  • Clown goby (Microgobius gulosus)

Pinfish
courtesy South Florida Water Management District

Pinfish
Pipefish
courtesy South Florida Water Management District

Pipefish

Gulf Toadfish
© David Snyder

Gulf Toadfish



Pigfish
© David Snyder

Pigfish

Fish residing in Florida Bay and surrounding habitats are either permanent residents, seasonal residents, or visitors. The permanent residents are small fish such as the emerald clingfish (Acytrops beryllina) and pinfish (Lagodon rhomboides). Seasonal residents are fish that spend part of their life in Florida Bay, usually as juveniles. The spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus), silver perch (Bairdiella chrysoura), and pigfish (Orthopristis chrysopterus) as well as many other species are included in this group.

Mosquitofish
courtesy U.S. Geological Survey

Mosquitofish

In the northern reaches of Florida Bay, the waters are influenced by freshwater from the Everglades watershed. During the wet season, flooding of the Everglades brings freshwater and slough fish into the Bay. Florida gar (Lepisosteus platyrhincus), largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), sunfish (Lepomis spp.), catfish (Ictalurus spp.), sailfin mollies (Poecilia latipinna), mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki), and least killifish (Heterandria formosa) are occasional visitors to this area. However, as the flooding recedes, these fish retreat upstream to remain in freshwater.

Southern Stingray
© Jeremy Stafford-Deitsch

Southern Stingray

They are quickly replaced by marine fish including stingrays (Dasyatis spp.), needlefish (Stongylura notata), jacks (Caranx spp.), and goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara) as salinity increases within the estuary.