Lemon Bay Conservancy (LBC) is proud and happy to report that our May 15, 2021 Net Pull for Juvenile Tarpon was a surprisingly great success. We measured, counted and safely returned 46 healthy Juvenile Tarpon. Which according to our professional scientific research partners at Florida Fish and Wildlife means there were most likely in excess of 150 juvenile tarpon still hiding out from predators in in Mid-May of this year in LBC’s two murky, yet tidal, high salinity, Lemon Creek Ponds at Wildflower Preserve among the submerged tidal mangroves the fledgling tarpon’s natural habitat.
Best of all, despite high wind conditions, red tide issues in the Lemon Bay, and Covid-19 virus issues the baby tarpon counted numbered 46 and most were close to 13 inches long. The fish counted and measured were all healthy and of a normal size which is seasonally overdue but a size ready to swim back out into the Gulf of Mexico. Normally at Wildflower Preserve by mid-May our baby tarpon fish counts are lower than 46 with an estimated excess of 150 still in the Lemon Creek ponds. It seems the fledgling tarpon have some internal sense of when it is safe to leave the safety of Wildflower’s ponds.
We believe it is a very hopeful sign that 46 fledgling tarpon were identified as healthy but staying longer in Wildflowers Lemon Creek ponds in Mid-May this year. Especially knowing the entire Wildflower Preserve area experienced so many physical changes the past year. The planting of an excess of a thousand native plants which are doing fine. The physical changes in the wetlands pond dimensions, creating more than 2x more water areas, allowing more opportunities for more tarpon, plus the interconnection of larger underground piping with new inter pond water way locations. These changes enhanced and enticed wetland dwelling birds, butterflies which enables them to thrive. The creation of several new view mound pathway locations and bird feeder areas helps attract and protect native birds.
In addition to all the one time unusual physical condition changes noted above, plus a rained out session and equipment issues only 3 successful net pulls were conducted in Spring 2021. Yet LBC netted, measured and recorded a total of 111 tarpon. This is a good sign as all of the Tarpon were healthy.
None of LBC’s invaluable tarpon net pull fish counting data or pond water sampling data is possible without the support of our many friends and volunteers. It is fun, educational hard work and requires patience and team coordination from at least 16 willing volunteers to let out and retrieve the large 600 foot long LBC seine net during the 8 am monthly Saturday morning net pull evens LBC conducts during the season. Our mid-May event was the last for this year. The next net pull event will likely be in Dec 2021. We are fortunate to have so many environmentally concerned and experienced volunteers.
LBC encourages the public to join as members, to receive our monthly newsletter and to help us in our valuable coastal waters environmental protection mission. As LBC is a qualifying charity all donations are still tax deductible. We have lots more to do with new signage, marking of our new trails, creating new environmentally sound green plastic picnic benches and bike racks. Charitable donation information can be found on LBC’s web site: WWW.Lemonbayconservancy.org.
As the manager of LBC’s net pull program I warmly thank all of those volunteers who gave up so much of their valuable time to make this important annual program a huge success.
Best wishes to all, Jim Cooper
LBC Net Pull manager and LBC President