The Sapelo Island Reserve and regional partners are developing educational media products designed to communicate the importance of non-game fish species and aid in their identification.
Estuarine ecosystems are some of the most productive and diverse habitats on earth and play a critical role in the health and well-being of coastal communities. Estuarine fishes are a vital component of these ecosystems, serving as indicators of environmental health and supporting recreational and commercial fisheries. Though there is an abundance of public media and guides on game and large charismatic fish species, there is less media available that addresses small-bodied, non-game species that constitute most of the fish biomass in Georgia estuaries. In addition, there are few guides available to the public that address the challenges of identifying fishes in their juvenile stages, which may look very different from their adult morphology.
This project aims to bring greater awareness to these lesser known species and juvenile stages by developing three primary types of products: 1) electronic multimedia, including story maps and videos that illustrate the diversity of estuarine fish communities, the importance of the estuarine habitat, and the impact of these fish on coastal communities; 2) web-based and printable guides that highlight identifying features and brief life histories of estuarine fishes, including juvenile stages of non-game species; and 3) training modules focused on educating undergraduate and non-academic audiences about estuarine species. The team will design the combined suite of products so that they can be incorporated into their regional partners’ existing outreach, education, and monitoring efforts.