OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol
OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol

Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

What is the purpose of the program?

The commission's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute provides timely information and guidance to protect, conserve, and manage Florida's fish and wildlife resources.

What are the services provided by the program?

The Fish and Wildlife Research Institute serves as the primary source of research and technical information on the status of Florida's fish and wildlife resources. Additional functions include
  • developing restoration techniques for habitat and enhancement of plant and animal populations;
  • identifying and monitoring harmful algal blooms, including red tides, evaluating their impacts, and providing technical support concerning state and local public health concerns;
  • monitoring the status and health of marine life, freshwater aquatic life, and wild animal life species and their habitat;
  • providing science-based assessments of fish and wildlife resources to the commission and others that regulate and manage the state's natural resources; and
  • responding to and providing critical technical support for catastrophes including oil spills, major species die-offs, and natural disasters.

What is red tide?

In Florida, red tide is caused by a higher-than-normal concentration of a microscopic alga (plant-like organisms) known as Karenia brevis. This organism produces toxins that are capable of killing fish, birds, and other marine animals. This organism is found mostly in the Gulf of Mexico, but also has been found off the east coast of Florida. Commission staff monitors coastal waters for red tide and other harmful algae and conducts research on harmful algae including developing and testing new detection technologies and assessing red tide's effects on fisheries. In Fiscal Year 2018-19, the state experienced prolonged and widespread ride tide. The commission reported that in Fiscal Year 2018-19, it completed 2,387,870 red tide and aquatic health assessments and communications to stakeholders. 

What are the institute's fisheries research activities?

Commission staff collects catch and effort information from commercial and recreational anglers. The institute also conducts biological research on age, growth, genetic identification, and reproduction of fishery species. The commission reported that in Fiscal Year 2018-19, it conducted about 1.08 million fisheries assessment and data summaries.

How are these activities funded?

Fiscal Year: 2020-21
Fund Dollars Positions


Sea Turtle Nest Monitoring. The 2019 Statewide Nesting Beach Survey documented 106,656 loggerhead nests, 53,015 green turtle nests, 1,015 leatherback nests, and 11 Kemp’s Ridley nests through its network of nearly 2,500 volunteers and partners. Loggerhead nest numbers have fluctuated greatly in the last 30 years, while green turtle and leatherback nest numbers have increased exponentially. However, while green turtle nest numbers continue to rise, leatherback nest numbers have been declining since 2014. Last year, the commission coordinated the collection of sea turtle nesting data on 840 miles of beach.

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

A complete list of related OPPAGA reports is available on our website.

Where can I get more information?

What are the applicable statutes?

Chapter 379 and s. 20.331, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

Gil McRae, Director, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute,727-896-8627, email:  gil.mcrae@myfwc.com