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Contact: David Hallac, 305-224-4239
Contact: Linda Friar, 305-242-7714
A recent period of cold temperatures in south Florida caused widespread fish kills in Everglades National Park. Across the Park's freshwater wetlands, most of the impacts were on non-native fish, such as the Mayan cichlid. The cold weather helps to control populations of these non-native fish that have invaded many areas in the park. Marine fish species were also significantly impacted by the cold weather in all areas of the Park's western rivers and bays, in Whitewater Bay, and throughout all of Florida Bay. Reports from fishermen and observations from Park Rangers and biologists suggest that the hardest hit species were snook, tarpon, ladyfish, catfish, and smaller species such as pinfish and mojarra. It appears that redfish and black drum survived the cold temperatures better than many other species.
The Flamingo marina was the location of a concentrated fish kill where thousands of large dead snook, tarpon, and goliath grouper have been observed. These fish are now floating throughout the basin and the smell of rotting fish will become more intense throughout the week. The dead fish will disperse with the tidal currents and continue to decompose. Over time, the basin's water quality and odor should return to normal.
The park will continue to monitor the impacts of the fish kill, but it will be difficult to determine the percentage of each fish population that was impacted by the cold weather. However, biologists are concerned about the impact of this fish kill, and we will coordinate with our partners at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to work on evaluating management options that are in the best interest of maintaining a strong and sustainable recreational fishery in Everglades National Park and surrounding waters. The FWC recently extended the no harvest season for snook until September 1, 2010 and implemented a temporary prohibition on the harvest of bonefish and tarpon until March 31, 2010. Catch and release fishing is still allowed. For more information on the FWC's recent response to the cold-water marine fish kills, please go to the FWC website: http://www.myfwc.com/NEWSROOM/10/statewide/News_10_X_ColdWeatherSaltFishKills1.htm