A juvenile tarpon habitat restoration project planned near Boca Grande, Florida, recently got underway. Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, in collaboration with The Lemon Bay Conservancy are working together to identify and restore appropriate habitat for juvenile tarpon.
Juvenile tarpon require very unique habitat, the fish’s ability to gulp air from the surface allows them to live in water that contains very little oxygen. These areas support little in the way of predators to juvenile tarpon — larger fish need oxygenated water, and wading birds have a tough time getting into the typically overgrown areas.
Mucky backwater mangrove and marsh areas where emerging mosquitoes make it hard to breathe are ideal. With enough food (other small fish are also adapted to these habitats) and cover to keep them safe for a year or so the young tarpon will relocate from these areas and begin to use more open habitats.
This is a two-year research assessment and will fully document the restoration’s effectiveness in creating viable juvenile tarpon habitat. This is the first of potentially many habitat restoration projects for juvenile tarpon.