Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Project to Help Pond Wildlife Cold Weather Kills Some Fish

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Project to Help Pond Wildlife Cold Weather Kills Some Fish

Article excerpt

JACKSONVILLE BEACH -- Recent cold weather has killed some fish in the Huguenot Park pond, but after a planned restoration project, the pond's aquatic life should have a better chance of surviving future winters.

Responding to a report of dying fish, Scott Brown, who stocks ponds with fish for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, inspected the pond at Third Street and 16th Avenue South Wednesday.

He said he found about 75 dead blue tilapia along the outer banks. The pond measures about 4 feet at its deepest point, causing its temperature to dip faster in cold weather. Brown said the tilapia, which are not native to the state's fresh water lakes, have a temperature threshold of about 55 degrees and could not survive the latest cold spell.

"It's been cold enough for long enough that the fish are dying," said Brown, project leader for the Jacksonville Urban Pond Project.

Blue tilapia are native to northern Africa and the Middle East, according to the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. In 1961, the fish was first introduced in South Florida, then gradually made its way to the northern part of the state, most likely by people catching and releasing them into freshwater, Brown said.

"I guess because of milder waters in the north, they [tilapia] became more prevalent up here," Brown said.

Brown said Huguenot Park pond has the only established population of tilapia in the Jacksonville area. Brown said he thinks the fish have been surviving shorter cold snaps by swimming into pipes that run from the pond to beneath Third Street, where the air and water are warmer.

By the end of the year, however, the remaining fish won't have to spend their winters in the pipeline.

The pond at Huguenot Park will be restored to its normal depth through a restoration project. …

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