Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

manatee calf rescue

Manatee Calf Rescue on April 2, 2009

Spawning Habitats: Spawns in summer; some reports indicate it is a bubble nest builder species, others say uses burrows for egg incubation; ripe female typically contains about 440 ready to spawn eggs; hermaphroditic-- all mature as females, and some of these females later become males; most populations have highly skewed sex ratio dominated by females.

Feeding Habits: Feeds primarily on small fishes, crayfish, grass shrimp, and worms; due to mouth width, the largest food a 30-inch swamp eel can eat is about the same as what a 9-inch largemouth bass can eat; due to mouth size, weak swimming attributes, and poor vision, swamp eels do not appear to be affecting native fish in canals.

Age and Growth:

Oldest believed to be about 10 yrs; largest collected by FWC was 33.7 inches long and 1.7 pounds.

Sporting Quality:



Good, mild tasting meat; considered a delicacy in its native range.

Image Credit: FWC

FWC Facts:
Red tides have been documented along Florida's Gulf coast since the 1840s and likely occurred earlier. Fish kills around Tampa Bay were mentioned in the logs of Spanish explorers.

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