(Photo Credit: Dr. Aaron Adams)
(Photo Credit: Dr. Aaron Adams)

Bonefish and Permit

Adult bonefish and permit are commonly fished along the flats around the Florida Keys, as seagrass meadows in these habitats provide an abundance of small crabs, shrimp and clams that make up both species’ diet. Both bonefish and permit also find food among the sponges and soft corals of the hard limestone bottom that dots the backcountry flats.

The amount of appropriate habitat determines the population size for each species. As seagrass beds, sponges and soft corals die off due to changes in salinity, pollutants, and other changes in water quality linked to the degradation of the Everglades and Florida Bay, permit and bonefish populations decline. This can result in major disruptions to these recreational fisheries. Since bonefish and permit have small home ranges, they are unlikely to move to other areas when their home habitats are lost or damaged. Instead, local populations suffer, which impacts the larger regional population.

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