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-   -   Pacific Predator Invades Atlantic (http://www.fksa.org/showthread.php?t=4402)

RickI 07-31-2007 11:56 AM

Pacific Predator Invades Atlantic
 
http://www.fksa.org/albums/album292/Lionfish_1_s.jpg


We were free diving on a small sailboat wreck reportedly dating from the 1800's a few miles north of of North Bimini in the Western Bahamas yesterday. What should Dr. Denis, a Marine Biologist, see but a Pacific Red Lionfish, likely Pterois volitans. Denis and I grew up diving in Ft. Lauderdale.


http://www.fksa.org/albums/album292/Lionfish_2_s.jpg


It was a shocker to me having grown up seeing delicate images of Lionfish with the understanding that they were Pacific fish and never occurred in Atlantic waters. Denis had heard of other sightings in the Biminis in recently. I did a little searching and found out that the Red Lionfish has been sighted up and down the east coast of the USA including Florida as well as in various islands in the Western Bahamas. The Lionfish usually are found only in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.


https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/wp...litans-map.jpg
Red Lionfish distribution per http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/galler...rlionfish.html


The video clip of lionfish in Bimini and Andros appears on Vimeo appears below. I think the compression there results in clearer clips than on youtube.


The same clip of poorer image quality on youtube appears below. It is interesting what manual compression & processing will do for you.



http://www.fksa.org/albums/album292/Lionfish_8_s.jpg
I wasn't trying to disturb it unduly despite appearances.


http://www.fksa.org/albums/album292/Lionfish_3_s.jpg
Not being aware at the time of the degree of documentation already in place about the appearance of this species in foreign waters I made a point of showing off native species and biotope characteristics in the photo background. Not in the Pacific.


Lionfish congregate at times in their natural ranges. I don't know if this behavior has been observed in the Atlantic yet or not. Young lionfish have been seen going back years in this area suggesting that populations are reproducing. Some are aggressively harvesting (spearing) lionfish when found in Atantic waters in an effort to try to reduce potential ecological damage from this invasive species. It is possible that the lionfish has no predators in the Atlantic unlike in its home waters. It could do a lot of damage, largely unpredictable at this point. Shooting them may make sense.


More about the Lionfish and appearance in western Atlantic waters at:
http://www.coastalscience.noaa.gov/d...ionfish_ia.pdf
http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/a...lionfish.shtml
http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/galler...rlionfish.html


And envenomations (it seems reasonable to want to see a doctor in any case if you are stung):
http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-1...ture/index.php


http://www.fksa.org/albums/album292/Lionfish_6_s.jpg


http://www.fksa.org/albums/album292/Lionfish_7_s.jpg
Get used to the sight and prepare to intercede with caution with these guys unless word to the contrary comes out.


https://hendrikgheerardyn.files.word...gheerardyn.png
https://hendrikgheerardyn.com/natura...ik-gheerardyn/
Take comfort in this parting point, only about 140,000 pythons have been brought into the USA. Who knows how many have been released into the "wild." Man's stupidity and indifference at times can be overwhelming.

UW Photos by Rick Iossi

Skyway Scott 07-31-2007 12:13 PM

That lionfish use to be in someone's fish tank, right?

The Kite House 07-31-2007 12:22 PM

Hey Rick, there was an article in a spear magazine a while back, calling for spear fisherman to shot them anytime they saw them up and down the east coast and they gave areas. They destoy the fish population, nasty little things, and they are not fromthe waters, but adapt very easy. I will look for the article to send you. Have fun!
Damn is it hot here, where is the wind?

RickI 07-31-2007 12:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Skyway Scott (Post 21469)
That lionfish use to be in someone's fish tank, right?

Probably not. Doing a rapid search of the literature online, lionfish have been sighted at least 7 years back along the east coast of the USA. One account had it that one was seen off Honduras 20 years ago. It is reasonable to conclude that the invading populations have become established here.

Its distant ancestors may have been in someone's fish tank however. Welcome to the neighborhood.

RickI 07-31-2007 02:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Kite House (Post 21470)
Hey Rick, there was an article in a spear magazine a while back, calling for spear fisherman to shot them anytime they saw them up and down the east coast and they gave areas. They destoy the fish population, nasty little things, and they are not fromthe waters, but adapt very easy. I will look for the article to send you. Have fun!
Damn is it hot here, where is the wind?

Hey Paul,

That is what Denis said and did. I am amazed at how fast they have apparently spread. It would be good to see the article if you can find it. Are you still in Peru? Must not be and yes it is really hot!

RickI 08-01-2007 05:06 AM

I just came across a short online reporting form for lionfish sightings,

http://www8.nos.noaa.gov/nccos/ccfhr...ishreport.aspx

If you have seen any please help NOAA to better understand what is going on with the invasion.


A short video clip about the invasion and quite a bit of other information appears at:
http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/educati...h/welcome.html

A lot of good info appears at:
http://www.coastalscience.noaa.gov/d...ionfish_ia.pdf

Skyway Scott 08-01-2007 07:47 AM

Very interesting stuff.
I have to claim ignorance as a young guy on the idea of exotics and competition with native species.
Back when I was in high school I had a salt water fish tank. When things in it got too big for my tank I released some to the Gulf. The fish stores wouldn't take them back, so I released of couple of exotic moray eels to the Gulf by a huge rock formation near DeSoto fishing pier (we called them snowflake eels) as well as panther grouper. I included a pic.

Do you ever see any of those while diving? SO many people buy those panther groupers when they are small, then they grow really fast and eat everything, that I can't be the only one to have released one. I wonder if they have established populations in some areas.

Hard to believe some exotics are introduced on purpose by agencies for one reason or another and of course you know about larval inverts and ship ballast water.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zebra_mussel

RickI 08-03-2007 03:07 PM

Haven't seen the eel before but quite a few soapfish similar to what is in the photo. Haven't heard of Panther Groupers before though. Tons of exotics have been introduced all over the place worldwide for a long time. Some don't make it, some cope while still others take over. It sounds like the lionfish may be well entrenched already.

Was just talking to someone over on North Andros, he said they had lionfish, enough to make it the national Bahamian fish. Noticed the image below on a site from the Exuma's. I haven't seen anything in the literature yet that indicates the invasion is as widespread as this. Looks like the lionfish may be here to stay at this point, warts and all. Have difficulty believing all this came from six fish that might have survived a 15 ft. plus storm surge that bashed through a house in Miami 15 years ago.

http://www.divecustomaquatics.com/ph...g/Lionfish.jpg
From: Bahamas Diving - Custom Dive Charters in Exuma and Nassau Bahamas

Skyway Scott 08-03-2007 04:39 PM

Yeah. I am sure that thousands of people have released lionfish from their home aquariums. "Panther grouper" is actually the pet store name for the fish in the photo. It is indeed a type of soapfish. It loses its spots and looks rather dull as an adult.

kent 08-13-2007 12:36 PM

actually most of these fish likly came from the ballast tanks from in bound freighters. This is also the case for damaging plant life as well. The large freighters generally carry around 1 million - 5 million gallons of water used as ballast. There are ships that actally carrry up to 20 million gallons! This water is taken on very near to any port that they depart from. I know that SF Bay is suffering from some sort of weed that was imported this way and it has no growth control.

I'll pop a lyon fish or two if i see them!

Kent

RickI 08-14-2007 03:31 PM

Hey Kent,

Bilge water certainly is one of the theories in play currently. It certainly has done serious documented damage in fresh water areas like the Great Lakes. That is in the marine area of the Bay? I had heard of a number of fresh water impacts but yours may be the first saltwater issue that I have come across.

Yes, popping them is certainly one option. We are very adept at depleting desirable species, clearly enough. Maybe we can do a number on this not so welcome species that may well take out snapper and grouper fry.

RickI 08-14-2007 04:21 PM

NEWS FROM THE BAHAMAS

Just got back from Small Hope Bay Lodge near Fresh Creek on Andros. Lionfish are fairly common there. On one dive on the wall, we saw three inside a small head including a juvenal. My primary camera flooded (25 yrs. since the last time) so I had no camera to use at depth. Fortunately, Nick Goddard was carrying a nice housed Canon Rebel and graciously provided the five underwater photos used in this account.

http://www.fksa.org/albums/album298/Lionfish_SHB_s.jpg
The juvenal is labeled "A" with the two adults marked A and C at around 95 ft

http://www.fksa.org/albums/album298/...sh_shb_2_s.jpg
A closer view of the trio

Nick is a dive instructor, hails from the UK and does an excellent job of running dives and instruction at Small Hope Bay Lodge just north of Fresh Creek. He comes from Marine Engineering and is on sabbatical in Andros.

http://www.fksa.org/albums/album298/...Brit.sized.jpg
Nick at the helm on the way to the reefs

Britt, also a very capable instructor and boat operator teams with Nick and other staff on runs out to the reefs several times a day. She told me about seeing 15 lionfish hanging around one of the steel channel marking structures offshore of the Fresh Creek inlet. Britt comes from a background in Geography, has a strong interest in expanding into cave diving and mapping. Like Nick, she is an effective but low key leader on the dives.

BTW, the diving is interesting and staff at SHB do an incredible job, excellent view, clear water, easy peaceful times ashore, good food, it's a great place to go hang out. The wall is impressive and comes up as shallow as 80 ft. in spots, there are a variety of blue holes to checkout and the shark dive is a hoot. We had about 12 reef sharks show up and swim around for 45 minutes. SHB is a low key, unpretentious place only 50 minutes away from Ft. Lauderdale, FL by plane. I am still evaluating this but it is possible this part of Andros may be treated to fairly regular, kiteable thermal winds. More about Small Hope Bay Lodge at: http://www.smallhope.com/

http://www.fksa.org/albums/album298/Brit.jpg
Britt checking things out

Later on in the dive we saw a particularly large lionfish at least 18 cm perhaps longer around 105 ft. near the edge of the wall.

http://www.fksa.org/albums/album298/Lionfish_b_s.jpg
The big guy

http://www.fksa.org/albums/album298/lionfish_s.jpg

http://www.fksa.org/albums/album298/Drop_off.jpg
The head the big guy was in along the wall

http://www.cgrandros.com/images/androsmap.jpg
Small Hope Bay Lodge is located just north of Andros Town on the northeast coast of Andros

On another dive along the wall, we saw FIVE lionfish distributed singly along the path of the dive.

I also met a long time resident of the area, Dr. Tim Turnbull who first dove the area in 1969. He is a marine biologist specializing in reef studies who estimates the lionfish first appeared in the area around 6 years ago.

Also, down in Key Largo I met a guy who remembers seeing lionfish around New Providence in the Bahamas about 20 years ago. I hope to receive more info from him about these old sightings.


http://www.fksa.org/albums/album298/SHB.sized.jpg
SHB, less than an hour away from Florida

RickI 09-10-2007 09:05 AM

I checked around a bit during a recent short visit and it seems that lionfish have yet to be sighted in the Cayman Islands. The Caymans are so isolated perhaps the mechanisms that are working to disperse the lionfish haven't extended to that area yet.

Have folks seen them in the Antilles yet?

RickI 09-24-2007 08:49 AM

From what I have heard, they have been seen as far north as Long Island*. The article says they will die off once the temperature drops far enough. Well, we can hope but they will apparently repopulate? They seem to be along the east coast of Florida, Bermuda, moving well down the Bahamas and into Turks and Caicos, may not be in the Caymans yet, not sure if they are in the Antilles or not. Don't know why they wouldn't be though. Has anyone heard of sightings down in the Caribbean?


*Divers have reported capturing hundreds of venomous lionfish swimming in the seas off New York's Long Island this summer, providing evidence to suggest that the non-native fish has been breeding in the area.

http://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.u....php?news=1068

RickI 03-27-2008 12:09 AM

I just redid the video including content from both Bimini and Andros

I have actually learned how to process video sequences into something, sort of. Took long enough, sigh. Anyway, I have processed some of the lionfish sequences into a processed clip and have uploaded it with clearer compression on Vimeo resulting in a better video I think. Check it out above in the original posting on page one.

It also appears below:




CLICK the image to start the video

captadamr 03-28-2008 10:50 PM

Hey Rick,

We see quite a few around here (Nassau, East almost to Eleuthra and Friends have seen them in Exuma). Since we were spearing lobsters, it never hurts to get some extra target practice on lionfish. Havent left one alive yet.... Have a special spear without a barb, for easy removal, one shot to the brain and they are done after that. It may not be much, but im able to keep the reefs we frequent clean of lionfish, although I have at least 4 under our dock in the harbour :mad:

RickI 03-28-2008 11:56 PM

Thanks for the reports. I had heard about Nassau and NP, news to me about the Exumas. Sorry to hear about that. Makes sense they would be through the central Bahamas at least in time. Has any report of them came out of the SE Bahamas or Turks and Caicos? I heard that they are not that uncommon in Bermuda as well. Quite a few people have elected to shoot them when they are sighted.

RickI 03-29-2008 03:27 PM

Still more info ...

Re: Coming to a reef near you?

The government was supporting the theory of six individuals that were
bashed out a large aquarium, through a picture window of a home on Key
Biscayne during the storm surge (15 ft.?) of Hurricane Andrew.
Considering how wide spread they area, South Florida (I've yet to see
one here btw) to Long Island, NY over to Bermuda, across the Bahamas,
found out today they've been in the Turks & Caicos for many years* and
may have been seen in Honduras 20 years ago, I think that is
stretching things a bit.

Best guess they love our environment here, have no natural enemies to
speak of (heard a story about a small one being found in the gut of a
grouper, we can hope!) and breed like sea bunnies and they are moving
out. I also heard today about a raft of fry being seen under a matt
of sargassum off Jupiter drifting north.

I have read about the bilge water theory too which has propagated a
number of other serious invasive species. Not sure about that in this
case as some islands like the Caymans with a fair amount of shipping
traffic apparently don't have lionfish yet.

I understand below about 80 ft. they are very common from Melbourne to
points north. They range out to about 250 ft. too.

* Was talking to an UW Photographer at the Delray event today. He has
some outstanding Lionfish shots along with a lot of Pacific
compositions. His lionfish images were all taken in the Turks &
Caicos. He says he has seen lionfish munching normally out of bounds
cleaner fish too, nothing is sacred it seems.

--- In FITGraduates@yahoogroups.com, "Martin Stepanek" <mstepanek@...>
wrote:
>
> WOW!!!! This is a new one to me as well. Is there any widely
accepted theory
> how and why they are here? They are so beautiful but this is not right.
>
>
>
> Martin

RickI 03-30-2008 09:08 PM

The fellow I spoke to at the Delray event is Christopher of http://aquaexposure.com/, an underwater photographer of some skill. He has a killer close up (1/64 inch away form the domeport, maybe less) beak-on shot of a queen trigger. Anyway, he lived in the Turks and Caicos for about six years and saw a lot of lionfish and interactions. He was the one that told me about the consumption of cleaner fish normally safe from ells to cuddas to groupers and the dozen or so small fry sighted off Jupiter. Bet he has still more stories related to lionfish and other invasive species.

RickI 05-30-2008 05:22 PM

Just headed over to the Bahamas again. Looks like they are getting more organized to deal with the invasion, including ...

http://www.fksa.org/albums/album357/Warning.jpg

http://www.fksa.org/albums/album357/yum.jpg

Unfortunately, I wasn't around to checkout the cleaning technique (careful ... remember what happens with improperly cleaned pufferfish, whoops!) or recipes. Maybe they would send them via email?

I spoke to a local who said they have found some young lionfish in the guts of a few groupers. Wow, a local predator, we can hope so.

The Nassau Guardian has a couple of articles:

If You Get Stung By A Lionfish
http://www.thenassauguardian.com/soc...5766194018.php

Asian Fish Threatens Fishing Industry
http://www.thenassauguardian.com/bix...3304726317.php

amber 06-11-2008 01:26 AM

wow... interesting post. Thanks for all the info. Us marine biology nerds disguised as kiters enjoy stuff like this... :)

Danimal8199 06-12-2008 04:21 PM

I was in South beach 2 summers ago and picked up some debris in the water only to find a tiny lion fish trying to hide in it. I couldn't believe what I saw so I barrowed a little net from some kids and scoped it up to take a safer look. It was fore sure a lion fish. I put it back in the water and but the sea weed back onto and sent it on its way...

RickI 06-12-2008 08:05 PM

Thanks for the SoBe story. I've heard they've been seen in Florida and are even common in deeper water off NE Florida. Despite that, I've yet to see one in SE Florida or the Keys. I understand they've been sighted off here as far back as 20 years ago. They sure are easily found in the Bahamas sad to say.
Have others seen these guys in Florida waters?

Yes, closet Marine Biologists unite! I ended up taking my career prospects on land a couple of decades ago. It sure was fun doing various coral reef, midwater and pelagic fisheries, marine geo, physical oceanography studies, UW Archaelogy and more for a while though. Great food for the mind if not the table!

RickI 06-22-2008 06:28 PM

Came across a clip with some preparation ideas for lionfish. Haven't tried any of what shows up in the following clip so copy at your own risk. Regardless of what may be implied in the video, these fish have venomous spines which will do a number on you if handled carelessly. The characters are a bit out there, particularly with the signature lionfish ventriloquism? Folks are giving clinics in the Bahamas on how to prepare them, missed out on those. So, in the interim, here's some food for ... uh, thought?





Also, here is some more info about lionfish from NOAA:
http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/education/lionfish.html

RickI 07-01-2008 03:43 PM

Bad news from the Caymans ...


Dr Mustard Column: Lionfish Update
Back in September I wrote an article in this column wondering when lionfish would make it to the Cayman Islands. To re-cap, the Indo-Pacific Lionfish, is not naturally found in the Atlantic Ocean or Caribbean Sea. However, in the early 1990s lionfish, presumed to be released from aquariums, started breeding off Florida and their population has rapidly spread. Initially this invading species was confined to Florida and the Carolinas, but in the last couple of years they have really proliferated and have been seen as far north as New York, as far east as Bermuda and are spreading southwards into the reefs of the Caribbean.

At the end of January I also mentioned the issue during my presentation at the Cayman Underwater Film Festival, asking if anyone had yet seen a lionfish in Cayman. Despite having much of the Cayman diving industry in the audience nobody came forward with information - so I concluded that the lionfish weren't here yet.

Then at the beginning of February, I got an email from Ben Webb, Dive Operations Manager at Reef Divers on Little Cayman. Ben told me that several of his guests had seen a lionfish on Bloody Bay Wall a few days earlier. When it comes to generating reliable data for a scientific study I am wary of trusting diver observations. Just ask any of OF's boat captains to repeat some of the funnier descriptions they are asked to decipher, even with common species like tarpon.

What I really wanted was a photo - the camera never lies and all that. And that was exactly what Ben had. Many thanks to guest Jim Matzke, who grabbed the first shot of a lionfish in the Cayman Islands on Bloody Bay Wall. It may not be technically perfect, but it was a perfect picture for me. Finally, proof of a Cayman lionfish. The second better quality image was taken by Matt Lewis from Reef Photo, Reef Divers of the same fish still on Bloody Bay Wall a couple of weeks later. Ben assures me that this is the same fish and it seems to have grown quite a bit.

So far the Little Cayman lionfish is the only one that has been seen and photographed in the Cayman Islands and the Department Of Environment have already captured it. So if you do see a lionfish anywhere in Cayman waters please take a photo and send me an email. Pictures don't need to be award winners, it is the record that counts. For those keen to learn more, check out Ned DeLoach's excellent article on the subject in the March 2008 issue of Scuba Diving Magazine.

http://www.oceanfrontiers.com/files/...ters-current#3

Skyway Scott 08-14-2008 08:56 AM

http://www.tbka.org/images/Picture%204.png

RickI 03-11-2009 11:22 AM

Decided to bring this up to the top in honor of the pending Smash activities in the Bimini's.

RickI 06-08-2009 09:19 AM

Some more information about the invader:

"Some interesting Lionfish facts from the Shedd Aquarium, http://www.sheddaquarium.org/SEA/fact_sheets.cfm?id=80

Male lionfish are territorial, which means they stick close to a specific area where they always live and mate. Even the females live in specific areas on the reef. One male defends a territory where a few females also live...
At dusk, the pair of lionfish rush to the surface to pelagic spawn, which means they mate in an area that the fertilized eggs will be taken away on the currents to drift into the open ocean. The female will release 2,000 to 15,000 eggs that are fertilized by the male. The pair then quickly dashes down to the reef to hide. By doing this so swiftly, the eggs are left to float off to far away reefs before egg eating predators can see them. The eggs hatch 36 hours later and the larvae remain in the epipelagic zone or the zone in the open ocean near the surface. When the small fish grow to a half an inch (12 mm) long, they will swim down and join a reef community.


This explains a great deal about their rapid spread up the Gulf Stream from the Bahamas. The sedentary adults also gives some hope of keeping some areas relatively free as long as there isn't a breeding population up current. However, since they are already established in the Caymens and the Cuban coast as well as the Bahamas, it is almost inevitable that they will eventually be distributed through the Caribbean and the Gulf.

I can't relocate the sites, but I've seen several mentions of groupers as possible predators. If that is true, then increased protection of groupers may be needed to help control Lionfish population. I also saw a mention of traps being used with some success. If the by catch is reasonably low, such traps may make commercial fishing possible.

http://www.scubaboard.com/forums/flo...h-death-7.html

and

Good information, thanks for posting it. I have heard about only one individual being seen on Little Cayman. Of course that was almost a year ago. Just checked, things have become more crowded there. Also the Cayman government has come up with an interesting response.** I heard four had been seen off Cozumel about three months ago. Strongly advised they put a bounty on them. Read about a restaurant in Nassau that pays $12. to $15. USD a pound for lionfish. One thing is for certain, if the fish has value we're very good at depleting stocks. Have at it.

** http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/pipermail...ay/038754.html

conchxpress 06-08-2009 03:08 PM

Are they any good to eat? Probably not, or else we as humans would have gobbled them up by now.

RickI 06-08-2009 03:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by conchxpress (Post 40702)
Are they any good to eat? Probably not, or else we as humans would have gobbled them up by now.

Ask Kent, supposedly quite good. A restaurant in Nassau is said to be paying $12. to 15. a pound for them!

RickI 06-29-2009 09:02 AM

Just came across a listing of lionfish sightings in the Atlantic. Good luck to us, eight in Little Cayman?!.

http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/colle...?SpeciesID=963

There is a paper related to this above database at:

http://www.aquaticinvasions.net/2009..._Schofield.pdf

RickI 09-28-2009 09:22 AM

An update on lionfish. Saw some in their native digs over in the Red Sea, but only at night. Despite looking in quite a few crevices and caves never saw any in daylight, only at night. At night they seemed to follow the diving light along. Honza with the Lighthouse Dive Center in Hurghada warned they might do that. They lap up fish that might be attracted or stunned by the light. He also said they can move at blinding speed as established by a night video clip slowed down to identify a blurred object. He indicated that in daylight they might see them in caves but near the walls. At night they range more out into the open. I only spent 9 days in the Red Sea diving in a lot of varied areas but my impression is that they are more common in the Bahamas, all be it in crevices and wrecks in the day than in the Red Sea by a good margin. Also, the Red Sea lionfish displayed a curious defensive perhaps offense mannerism. They rotate their body nose downward placing dorsal fins forward and swim in that direction. In other words, spears outward and advance. I have several video clips to process showing this, stay tuned.

Some summary comments from a discussion on Facebook:
Supposedly the cornetfish is a predator in the Pacific, not sure if they act in that role here or not. Individuals have been found in grouper guts. Still, once the lionfish grow to much size, it would be a lot for some groupers to choke down. Kent shot a couple over in Bimini to see what some nearby reef sharks might do about it. They ignored which is fairly unusual when it comes to speared fish. I've heard from folks diving off Jacksonville, FL that say they see 15 on a typical wreck dive. I understand they occur out to about 250 ft., so spearing may provide limited results. I have one report of a single juvenal being seen under a sargassum mat along the shore in Miami. If they spend part of their life cycle drifting over pelagic grass mats northward with the Florida Current/Gulfstream and if they propagated in the Bahamas and Caribbean, it might explain the distribution to date. Bermuda, northern Florida up the east coast to Long Island. The Stream peppers them along the east coast, they die off in the winter along the northern stretches like other reef fish that end up in those parts. Aside from counter current eddies on the western margin of the current, there may be little to transport lionfish to SE Florida. Then there is the extensive distribution over the Bahamian plateau down through Turks and Caicos, not sure about transport mechanisms there aside from mats drifting with prevailing winds.

Just came across a summary of lionfish in their natural habitat and in our area too;

http://www.dive-the-world.com/creatures-lionfish.php

RickI 12-17-2009 05:01 PM

Just came across this regarding lionfish in the Bahamas:

Lionfish Invasion: Super Predator Threatens Caribbean Coral Reefs
By: Mark Hixon, Mark Albins, and Tori Redinger

Indo-Pacific lionfish are rapidly invading the waters of the Caribbean and tropical Atlantic. Due to their population explosion and aggressive behavior, lionfish have the potential to become the most disastrous marine invasion in history by drastically reducing the abundance of coral reef fishes and leaving behind a devastated ecosystem. Dr. Mark Hixon and his team from Oregon State University with support from NOAA’s Undersea Research Program (NURP) have embarked on the first studies to measure the severity of the crisis posed by this invasive predator.

The lionfish, native to the Indo-Pacific region, have infiltrated their way into the Caribbean. Their introduction is believed to be a result of hurricanes and tank releases during the early 1990’s. They have been spotted along the eastern seaboard spanning as far north as Rhode Island to as far south as Columbia. Protected by venomous spines, lionfish are voracious and effective predators. When hunting, they herd and corner their prey using their pectoral fins, then quickly strike and swallow their prey whole. With few known natural predators, the lionfish poses a major threat to coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean region by decreasing survival of a wide range of native reef animals via both predation and competition. While native grouper may prey on lionfish, they have been overfished and therefore unlikely to significantly reduce the effects of invasive lionfish on coral reef communities.
In the last several years, members of Dr. Mark Hixon’s lab working at the NURP Caribbean Marine Research Center at Lee Stocking Island (LSI), a field station at the southwestern end of Exuma Sound, Bahamas, have documented increasingly frequent sightings of lionfish. These findings have provided an unprecedented opportunity to study the ecological interactions of lionfish with Caribbean coral reef fish communities from the very beginning of the invasion. In the summer of 2005, they found their first lionfish near LSI. Between the fall of 2006 and summer of 2007, the lionfish population in the Bahamas increased substantially. During the summer of 2007, over 100 lionfish were spotted around LSI signifying a rapid expansion within the Bahamas.

PhD student Mark Albins of Hixon’s team devised a controlled experiment testing the effects of lionfish on native fish communities by documenting the recruitment of newly settled reef fishes on 20 patch reefs near LSI: 10 reefs with a lionfish and 10 reefs without. Fish censuses were conducted at one week intervals for five weeks. Recruitment was significantly lower on lionfish reefs than on control reefs at the end of the experiment. On one occasion, a lionfish was observed consuming 20 small wrasses during a 30 minute period.

It was not unusual to observe lionfish consuming prey up to 2/3 of its own length. Results of the experiment show that lionfish significantly reduce the net recruitment of coral reef fishes by an estimated 80%. The huge reduction in recruitment is due to predation and may eventually result in substantial, negative ecosystem-wide consequences. It is also important to note that lionfish have the potential to act synergistically with other existing stressors, such as climate change, overfishing, and pollution, making this invasion of particular concern for the future of Atlantic coral reefs.

While complete eradication does not seem realistic, affected nations are encouraged to initiate targeted lionfish control efforts as soon as possible, including targeted fisheries (lionfish flesh is tasty and cooking denatures the spine venom). Efforts to reduce densities of lionfish at key locations may help to lessen their ecological impacts. Recovering and maintaining healthy populations of potential native predators of lionfish, such as large grouper and sharks, may also help reduce the deleterious effects of these voracious invasive predators.

Hixon’s team will return to the Bahamas this summer and thereafter to conduct further field experiments, field observations, and laboratory experiments to answer important questions regarding the invasion and how lionfish interact both directly and indirectly with native Bahamian reef fish and invertebrate communities. They will also work in the Pacific Ocean to understand what naturally controls lionfish abundance in their native range.

Article including photos at:
http://www.oar.noaa.gov/spotlite/arc..._invasion.html


Found some additional coverage on an NPR broadcast in August, the transcript appears at:
http://www.npr.org/templates/transcr...ryId=111695369


By the way, I saw three on the wall between 65 and 80 ft. in about five minutes on the wall off SW New Providence last weekend.

RickI 02-04-2010 10:15 PM

http://hphotos-snc3.fbcdn.net/hs216...._7650309_n.jpg

The first photo of a lionfish in Broward County that I've seen. Not good.



From posted by: Pompano Dive Center
http://www.facebook.com/tos.php?api_...id=94042108054

RickI 07-09-2010 11:39 AM

Kent just filled me in on some interesting lionfish happenings. Hope to get him on here to add some details.

He has nailed over 80 at this point himself, usually in the Biminis where there are lots to go around. A while back he said he shot some and sharks wouldn't even take them. Since that time he tells me he has seen barracuda, grouper and even a moray eel eat speared lionfish. He has also seen them in the gut contents of grouper as have others. It was depressing when it seemed almost nothing in our ocean would touch these things even when they are perforated. Hopefully there is some predation going on without the lionfish being speared first.

What have others seen in this regard?


Also, just found this ...

http://i226.photobucket.com/albums/d...motivator4.jpg


.

RickI 07-14-2010 02:37 PM

Was just speaking with the folks at REEF, they have a course on lionfish capture tonight at Seabase MM 73 in the Keys. Sorry for the late notice. They tell me the next course (takes about two hours) will be offered in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Check the event calendar at for scheduling at: http://www.reef.org/

It looks like they also discuss live capture and see a kit for this purpose:

http://www.reef.org/reef_files/image...onfish_kit.jpg
http://www.reef.org/node/3764

They also discuss filing for REQUIRED PERMITTING to capture lionfish in protected parks. Sigh, we're being invaded and unlike other countries, we're worried about permits in the midst of the onslaught. Anyway, lots of Parks out there that deserve to be protected from lionfish so best to look into this as well.

Use of the cut resistant gloves, the heavy walled dry bag for transfer of the lionfish and a trident head on a pole spear is a more lethal approach folks might consider. Assume all fins and spins carry venom and protect yourself accordingly during handling of the fish.

DebbyDiver 07-15-2010 11:24 AM

GREAT resource, Rick!

I don't see the lionfish class on their calendar anywhere and, of course, I want to attend the Fort Lauderdale one. Would you mind linking to it or telling us how to find it? A site search did not turn it up either.

RickI 07-15-2010 04:56 PM

Thanks Debby! Took some digging around found it at:

http://www.reef.org/gafc_events/2010

It should be worth attending.

Quote:

Originally Posted by DebbyDiver (Post 46008)
GREAT resource, Rick!

I don't see the lionfish class on their calendar anywhere and, of course, I want to attend the Fort Lauderdale one. Would you mind linking to it or telling us how to find it? A site search did not turn it up either.


DebbyDiver 07-15-2010 05:04 PM

That's a fish ID class, I'm trying to find the lionfish class. In fact, I can't even find the one tonight in the Keys on their calendar. They don't make it easy!

RickI 07-15-2010 06:14 PM

They said it would be posted there in the future. I haven't dealt with reef before so i guess we'll see how it all works out


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