This is the tenth installment of 12 Things to Experience on an Everglades Airboat Tour which can also be downloaded as a free eBook.
The mangrove forest provides a perfect spot for many types of fish in the Everglades to grow and flourish.
The mangroves have countless roots to hide amongst and an abundance of vegetation and warmth. Consider the added benefit of a slightly lower salt content, and you have an ideal nursery for many of the sport and food fish that are found in the Gulf and Atlantic waters.
The coastal mangrove is not just a place for young fish. As any fisherman knows, where you have small fish you will also have hungry large fish! So what kind of fish might you encounter?
There are 30 species of fish native to fresh water in the Florida Everglades National Park. Some of these include:
- The Florida Gar – a long, slender, predatory fish with sharp teeth and an armor of thick scales, up to 3 ft in length. It is often seen near the water’s surface swallowing air. If it is unable to get to the surface, the Gar will suffocate.
- Mosquitofish – the most common freshwater fish in the Everglades. This 2 inch fish is an insect-eater. It rapidly reproduces when the water level rises in May or June.
- Least Killifish – About 1 inch long, this is one of the smallest fish species in the Everglades. Most fish lay eggs, but the Least Killifish (as well as the Mosquitofish), bear live young. They are so small, they can only have one baby at a time. However, they have one baby a day throughout the few weeks of their adult life, so they make up for it.
- The Sailfin Molly – this is a small live-bearer, about 5 in. long, that lives in both fresh and salt water. It is the only true herbivore (plant eater) of the freshwater fishes. They are also commonly found in home aquariums.
- Largemouth Bass – these are a favorite among fishermen. In the Everglades National Park, fishing is allowed in some of the fresh water areas. Fishermen should first review a copy of the fishing regulations before fishing in the Everglades. In some areas, exotic species of fish are crowding out the Largemouth bass.
- Tarpon – These fish are very popular for sport fishermen. In the spring (March through June), when the conditions are right…Tarpon are very abundant in the Everglades. Many are well over a hundred pounds, and come into the 10,000 Islands to rest and feed on the mullet and crabs that live there. Tarpon often lie motionless, just below the surface. During this time, they almost look like they are asleep, giving them the nickname “sleepers” among fishermen.
Fish are very important to the Everglades environment. They are the main source of food for larger fish, wading birds, and alligators, and are also excellent for controlling the insect population.
If you’ve enjoyed reading about fish in the Everglades, download our FREE eBook by clicking the icon on the right and be sure to join Captain Jack on Facebook.
Hope to see you soon!