"Waterways” Showcases Spawning Aggregations and Tropical Connections

The "Waterways" series continues to educate viewers about the south Florida ecosystem in a new two-part episode.  This latest episode delves into the importance of fish spawning aggregations in the Florida Keys and the new book Tropical Connections: South Florida’s Marine Environment.

In the first segment, “Tropical Connections: A Blueprint for Getting Involved,” Dr. Bill Kruczynski and Pam Fletcher discuss their efforts to synthesize the science of the south Florida marine ecosystem in the book “Tropical Connections: South Florida’s Marine Environment. “ This effort brought together 163 scientists to summarize their research on south Florida’s unique habitats.  Why the name Tropical Connections?  Because south Florida and the Florida Keys are where tropical and temperate zones meet; it’s where the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean merge; it’s where the seagrass beds, the mangrove islands and the coral reefs all contribute to the lifecycle of many marine species; and it’s where water connects it all.

Photo of mutton spawning aggreqagation. Mutton snapper spawning aggregation.
Photo credit: Chris Parsons.

The episode’s second segment, “Fish Spawning Aggregations: Protecting the Most Valuable,” examines how healthy fish spawning aggregations are critical to maintaining sustainable fish populations.  Through ocean currents, these aggregations seed the reefs of the Florida Keys and beyond with new fish.  But when fish come together, it makes them especially vulnerable to fishing pressure.  Ongoing studies seek to identify common habitat features of spawning areas and the status of historical spawning aggregations for conservation efforts.  Protecting groups of spawning fish is one key to maintaining a healthy balance in the overall coral reef ecosystem.

With more than 200 episodes produced since 1993, the "Waterways" series is a joint project between Everglades National Park, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, informing viewers of the diverse wonders of the south Florida ecosystem, and the research and conservation programs that protect them.

“Waterways” airs on public and government channels throughout the state of Florida — check local listings for scheduling. Episodes can be viewed on the WaterwaysTvShow YouTube channel.

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects 2,900 square nautical miles of critical marine habitat, including coral reef, hard bottom, sea grass meadows, mangrove communities and sand flats. NOAA and the state of Florida manage the sanctuary. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency supports the Waterways program through the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Water Quality Protection Program established in 1993 and dedicated to the restoration and protection of corals, shellfish, wildlife and recreational activities on the water.

To learn more, visit the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Water Quality Protection Program.