The fishes found in south Florida mangroves represent marine species present in the Florida Bay along with the inclusion of freshwater species. During the rainy season, the increased flow of freshwater results in the appearance of freshwater species. However, the majority of dry season species cannot survive in these low salinities and migrate to higher salinity areas offshore. Some marine species, such as snook (Centropomus undecimalis), prefer the lower salinity, remaining in the mangroves during the entire year.
© Eugene Weber, California Academy of Sciences
Mangrove roots provide an ecologically important habitat for a wide variety of fish. Jacks (Caranx spp.), sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus), grunts (Haemulon spp.), gobies (Gobiosoma spp.), schoolmasters (Lutjanus apodus), gray snappers (Lutjanus griseus), and small goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara) as well as many other species of fish can be found among the tangled roots of red mangroves. Tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) cruise in waters adjacent to mangrove roots. The spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus) also thrive in mangroves and can tolerate high turbidity, taking advantage of the prey fish in the mangroves and seagrass beds. The florida gar (Lepisosteus platyrhincus) is a top-level carnivore, feeding on a variety of smaller fishes.
© George Burgess
Mangroves are important nursery areas for the sport and commercial fishing industry. Gray snapper (Lutjanus griseus), spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus), and red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) are among the species that utilize the mangrove primarily as nursery areas. The mangrove roots and shallow waters offer shelter from predators until the juveniles reach a size large enough to avoid most predators. These three species mentioned above are highly prized by sport fishers. As mangrove habitats are destroyed, the sport and commercial fisheries decline as a direct result.