SWFWMD, FWC, UF launch shocking snook study in King’s Bay

Written by Buster Thompson, Chronicle Reporter

UF shock boat in action
Kym Holzwart, senior environmental scientist with the Southwest Florida Water Management District, scoops a small snook from King’s Bay Monday, Dec. 13. She, along with other members of her agency, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Nature Coast Biological Station and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission work in unison to catch snook from the bay utilizing specialized boats that use electric current to stun fish so they can be collected, tagged and return them to the water for research purposes.

Anglers fish with hooks, lines, and sinkers to get their catch of the day.

Biologists on the other hand use electrofishing to stun and collect their wild specimens, and state scientists needed the shocking upper hand to catch and release their latest fish of study – the prized snook. Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) researchers on Monday, Dec. 13, launched a multi-year endeavor to learn more about how and when common snook swim during the winter into King’s Bay, Crystal River, for warmth within its springs.

“You can’t really manage a population of fish unless you understand their biology,” said Kym Rouse Holzwart, manager of the King’s Bay, Crystal River System Snook Tagging Project. “Results will also contribute to the overall understanding of the King’s Bay ecosystem.” SWFWMD partnered with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) Nature Coast Biological Station to tag and monitor snook through to the end of 2023.

Researchers holding Snook“I’m really excited about this collaborative team,” said Holzwart, a senior environmental scientist with SWFWMD. “We have the snook experts of Florida so I feel very fortunate we have the ‘A-team’ for this project.”

This study started after years of SWFWMD and FWC fishery data confirmed observations in recent years of snook expanding farther north during the winter along Florida’s coasts to seek thermal refuge inshore.

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Group photo of researchers

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Posted: December 15, 2021


Category: Coasts & Marine, Recreation, UF/IFAS Research, Wildlife
Tags: Boating, Fisheries, Fishing, FWC, Recreation, Snook, Springs, SRWMD, Suwannee River


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