Mote Marine scientists work to transform canals

- Scientists at Mote Marine Laboratory are going fishing in an unlikely spot: Sarasota's manmade canals. It's in the name of science, to help the Sarasota Bay ecosystem. 

When most plan on visiting waterfront property in Sarasota County, they don't expect to visit manmade canals.

"Right now, it looks like something you don't want to go into," said Dr.Nathan Brennan."This is the kind of system that really needs help."

Some of the canals that stretch throughout the county were built 100 years ago for flood control. Researchers believe they could serve an even greater purpose today.

"Ultimately, they could provide increased nursery habitat for the fish that use these aquatic systems so that our recreational fisherman can enjoy the benefit of growing up and catching them off shore," said Dr.Jay Leverone with Sarasota Bay Estuary program.

Right now, researchers are fishing for answers as to what kind of fish live in the canals and how the canal system affects Sarasota Bay.

They are just getting started, but so far they have identified bass, cray and mosquito fish.

Scientists will collect data from the canals during the dry and rainy seasons to see what is in the canal and the health of the waterway.

Researchers hope to draw even more healthy fish species to the area.

"We can change this system and make it a more productive system for fish as well as for filtration capabilities and it can turn into a beautiful waterway," said Dr.Brennan.

They hope to make life better for the creatures that live inside the canals and for the people that live along them.

"There are 4,000 homes that are up against the canal system. The potential to effect those people are pretty big," said John Ryan the environmental manager for Sarasota County.

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