Pilot Project Brings Benefits to Hunters Cove

hunters cove fish species infographic landscape

District scientists already are seeing benefits from the Hunters Cove Revegetation Pilot Project after just a couple months. 

Senior environmental scientists from the District, with assistance from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, conducted fish surveys in January of the fenced areas of eelgrass, which are part of the District’s revegetation project. They found 11 different species of freshwater, estuarine and saltwater fish in the fenced areas. Only two species were found in a control area outside the fences.

The 11 species were: Atlantic needlefish, bowfin, largemouth bass, bluegill, tidewater mojarra, bluefin killifish, rainwater killifish, striped mullet, white mullet, Seminole killifish, and gray snapper.

The project is part of the community effort to improve Kings Bay by restoring eelgrass in Hunters Cove, a 10-acre area surrounding Hunters Springs. Lush mats of eelgrass were transferred to Hunters Cove in November 2015 and placed on the bottom of the cove in fenced sections.

“Even though the eelgrass was planted in the fenced-in areas in Hunter’s Cove a few short months ago, the results of this survey demonstrate that the vegetation is already providing valuable fish habitat,” said Kym Rouse Holzwart, senior environmental scientist.

Once established, the eelgrass also will help improve water quality in Kings Bay. To learn more about how the eelgrass was grown and transferred to Hunters Cove, watch this video.