88.1 F
The Villages
Monday, June 27, 2022

Latest Silver Springs fish study reveals troubling trend for native fish

Scientists have been studying the fish population at Silver Springs for decades.

The most recent study completed by the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute reveals a troubling trend. Blue tilapia, an exotic fish, has exploded at Silver Springs over the last two years to 88 percent of the total fish population. “This is a troubling trend because blue tilapia compete with native mullet and gizzard shad for food and bass and sunfish for nesting areas. They disrupt the aquatic habitat,” said Dr. Robert Knight, executive director of FSI. “Breaching the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam would bring back large, predatory fish such as the striped bass and channel catfish which would compete with tilapia and potentially help control their population,” he added.

Blue Tilapia with Mullet on the Silver River taken during the Florida Springs Institute Silver River Fish Count on July 19. Photo by Florida Springs Institute.
Blue Tilapia with Mullet on the Silver River taken during the Florida Springs Institute Silver River Fish Count on July 19. Photo by Florida Springs Institute.

The tilapia explosion is not the only changing fish story at Silver Springs. Native fish species have not fully recovered and still only comprise about 41 percent of the fish population seen prior to the completion of the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam in 1968. Fish populations collapsed after dam construction, decreasing by 78 percent in 1979 and by 92 percent in 2004. Largemouth bass and sunfish declined by 67 percent between the 1950s and 2004. These two species are still down by 48 percent compared to pre-dam data.

The catfish that were historically the stars of the glass-bottomed boat rides dropped by 91 percent from 1954 to recent studies. Striped mullet, which are one of the few species that eat the algae coating the once bright green eel grass in the springs, diminished by 77 percent since 1954.

Although total biomass or fish weight in the study area is now on the rise, the increase recorded this year is predominantly by non-native and invasive tilapia.

“The only way to fully restore the ecosystem at Silver Springs and bring back our native fish population is to restore the historic fish migration route and natural flow from Silver Springs to the Atlantic by breaching the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam near Palatka,” said Knight.

More Headlines
Stories in and around The Villages, Florida

Headlines
The Villages, Florida

Letters to the Editor
Opinions submitted by residents in and around The Villages

Welcome to Sharia Law in the United States

In a Letter to the Editor, a Village of Pine Ridge resident reacts to the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade.

Leave the little white crosses alone!

A Bailey Ridge Villas resident, in a Letter to the Editor, says we need to leave the little white crosses alone.

Wait until it happens in your family

A Village of Hacienda South resident, reacting to the recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, offers her thoughts. Read her Letter to the Editor.

There was no voter fraud

A Village of Orange Blossom Gardens resident maintains there was no voter fraud in the 2020 election. In a Letter to the Editor, he suggests Trumpers should get over it.

‘2,000 Mules’ movie provides proof that 2020 election was stolen

In a Letter to the Editor, a Village of Charlotte resident contends the “2,000 Mules” movie provides proof that 2020 election was stolen.

Photos
The Villages, Florida