Butterflies, snook thrive in the Indian River Lagoon


Marine biologists say the Indian River Lagoon is one of the most diverse water bodies in the country.

What do they mean?

Two creatures that live there can provide an explanation.

Great southern white butterflies are found in coastal areas of Florida, along the Gulf and Atlantic to Texas and south through tropical America to Argentina. They are oyster white, at times translucent or green and shimmery.

In Florida, these butterflies might migrate several times a year, flying 20 to 40 miles in two days or less. They usually migrate when temperatures are in the 70s or hotter — often in May.

Huge shoreline migrations often can be seen along the Indian River Lagoon or near A1A. It is a luminous and memorable site.

The Great Southern White male butterflies have a lifespan of about five days and females live eight to 10 days. They can be seen on lantana and verbena.

Be careful where you step when observing them to preserve their important sources of nectar.

Snook are among the most prized game fish. They are known for the powerful fighting instincts that thrill sports fishermen. Snook are delicious and sought after by anglers at the Indian River Lagoon.

Winter months are the best time to catch snook in the Indian River Lagoon, Sebastian River and Mosquito Lagoon.

There are five species of snook in the Indian River Lagoon — the only place where all five can be found.  They are easily identifiable by the dark black line that runs the length of their body on each side and the high divided dorsal fin.

Their pike-like body is light in color, with silver sides and belly and yellowish-green tail and fins. Ocean snook tend to be more silver, while those found in the Indian River Lagoon are darker.

Snook can live to be 20 years old and reach a length of up to 50 inches. A little-known fact is that they can change their gender from male to female as the need arises. When they mature, snook migrate to inlets and nearshore waters to spawn during the summer months.