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South Florida Oysters

One goal of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program (CERP) is to manage water quality within south Florida estuaries. Providing the proper mix of freshwater to simulate natural estuarine conditions promotes growth, reproduction, and resiliency of the members of the community, both plant and animal. The goal is to reinitiate natural freshwater flow to coastal waters on both coasts of south Florida and reduce the frequency and severity of catastrophic flooding that harms the estuaries.

Oysters are included in this monitoring program as a target species because of their wide distribution, historical context, and essential habitat value. Oysters are an excellent indicator species for monitoring water quality changes in estuarine ecosystems as they are a dominant species in Florida estuaries and are a sedentary organism, meaning in times of extreme water quality changes they can’t leave! Because of this we can generate cause-and-effect relationships between the environment and oyster health.

Since 2005, FWRI biologists have been conducting monthly sampling trips to the St. Lucie Estuary, Loxahatchee River Estuary, and Lake Worth Lagoon. Funding has been provided by both the South Florida Water Management District and Palm Beach County. In 2017 the Caloosahatchee River Estuary was added as a monitoring site, after formerly being monitored by Florida Gulf Coast University.

See additional information about monitoring metrics conducted by FWRI biologists.

Three maps side by side show the lower half of Florida and different ways that water flows south and east from the center of the state out to the coasts or the Everglades.