THE IMPORTANCE OF OUR MANGROVE HABITATS

No, this isn’t going to be an article containing one or more rather mundane, so called, “fishing tips,” that pretty much everyone who’s ever held a rod, already knows about.  No, what you’ll read won’t sing praises to some new rod or reel.  Live to Fish has more products available than you could ever use, even if you fished every single day for the rest of your life.  Yet, we’re not going to discuss what we have in stock below.  You can come to our new, custom designed showroom, to see what we have at Live to Fish, 9942 State Road 52, Hudson, FL 34669 or visit us online at www.livetofish.com  What this article is about is something more important than the products we sell.  It’s about preserving the resources that allow us to catch the fish that we end up dreaming about later that night.  The fish we take numerous photos of; and which photos end up on social media and shared with friends.  It’s about being stewards of conservation in an effort to ensure that the quality of fishing we have today, doesn’t decline anymore than it already has.  What good does talking about a reel’s advanced drag system do if there’s no fish to test it on?

When it comes to the destruction of natural habitat, we’re our own worst enemies.  Human activity has had the greatest impact on the mangrove ecoregion in Florida. The Lake Worth Lagoon lost 87% of its mangroves in the second half of the 20th century.  Tampa Bay lost over 44% of its wetlands, including mangroves and salt marshes, during the 20th century. Heading to Florida’s East Coast, three-quarters of the mangrove wetlands along the Indian River Lagoon were impounded for mosquito control during the 20th century. As of 2001, natural water flow was being restored to some of the wetlands.

Human activity has impacted the mangrove ecoregion in Florida. While the coverage of mangroves at the end of the 20th century is estimated to have decreased only 5% from a century earlier, some localities have seen severe reductions. Ongoing and planned coastal development in Florida, Belize, the Bahamas, Mexico, and other locations, pose serious threats to mangroves.  The loss of mangrove habitat has a direct negative impact on our fisheries.

Me driving canoe

What this article contains is information about the importance of the habitat mangroves provide for our fisheries. You’ll come away with an understanding of how and why mangroves are many species, including some of our favorites; Tarpon and Snook.  Most people know that fish are often found in and around mangroves, but few know what a critical role they play in our marine ecosystem.  Mangrove forests are home to a large variety of fish, crab, shrimp, and mollusk species. Mangrove forests create fisheries that become an essential source of food for thousands of coastal communities around the world. The forests also serve as nurseries for many fish species, including coral reef fish.

250px-Atlantic_tarpon

Most people are unaware that Tarpon, Megalops Atlanticus, is currently considered a species under threat by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.  Juvenile tarpon depend on mangroves as nursery habitat.  Obviously, if we lose the habitat, the loss of the fishery will follow.  Juvenile tarpon use mangrove wetland habitats that are typically low in oxygen.  The low oxygen reduces the number of predatory fish that would otherwise post a threat to the species.  Mangroves also help provide protection to juvenile tarpon from bird predators. Most juvenile tarpon mangrove habitats have the following characteristics:  a mixture of depths – primarily shallow with deeper pools for the fish to congregate in when water levels decrease; tidal exchange through narrow, shallow, passages that inhibit access by larger predatory fish; freshwater inflow; and generally calm waters.  As Tarpon grow, they widen their use of protected habitats inside lagoons, creeks, canals, sloughs, and coastal bays.  Tarpon happen to share the same nursery habitats as Snook.  By helping to preserve environment for Tarpon, you’re helping Snook too.

Canoe Caught Snook

Tarpon aren’t just one of the most sought-after game fish for their beauty, the challenge in landing them, and their phenomenal aerial shows that often take place after they’re hooked.  They’re also one of the most vital species to numerous Florida economies.

tarpon_mid-atlantic_live_bait04

Next time you’re out on the water, take a moment to appreciate the mangrove shorelines, their inherent natural beauty, and the narrow rivers you see flowing in and out.  Now you can look upon them knowing that you’re looking at the place where some of the largest, and most valuable, sportfish begin their lives.