Environmental Education – Juvenile Tarpon Research
Tarpon can live up to 80 years. They start their life many miles off-shore, where adult males and females spawn. After the eggs hatch, the tarpon larvae, looking like minuscule eels, make their way to estuaries and thrive in back country bays, creeks, and protected estuarine environments where they grow into juveniles.
We have a series of ponds in our Wildflower Preserve which provide a welcome sanctuary for these juvenile fish. Their journey to the ponds is a miracle of nature – from the Gulf of Mexico to Lemon Bay and into Lemon Creek, that runs across a local golf course, through a drainage pipe under Placida Road and continues into our Preserve, forming a mangrove wetland area that includes the ponds and a lake.
LBC volunteers work with representatives from Florida Fish & Wildlife, and teachers and marine biology students from Lemon Bay High School to study juvenile tarpon numbers and growth. Every third Saturday during the winter and spring months our volunteers are out early with their waders and nets. This past winter we recorded over 200 juvenile tarpon in one of our net pulls, from a pond the size of a swimming pool!
We are contributing to the important role of protecting our local estuarine habitat and better understanding this incredible marine species.
Our work is described well by one of our volunteers, fishing guide and Captain, Rebecca deRosa who said “It is through these net pulls that we are able to share our knowledge and research with so many people. From our hard working volunteers to our high school STEM students and everyone in between, this hands on approach has proven to be educational for everyone. This research is priceless in the management of one of our greatest assets, the mighty silver king!”.