« Archives in July, 2013

Lionfish continue to populate, pose threats to coral reefs

By Annie Chambers..U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Jacksonville District

Their dorsal spines and zebra-like bodies may draw one in for a closer look. Commonly used in aquariums for show, the invasive lionfish has made its way from the South Pacific and Indian Oceans to the east coast. In the past decade, they’ve been rapidly expanding from Florida to North Carolina, as well as the Caribbean.

A red lionfish swims in the Atlantic Ocean. The aquarium trade is the most likely explanation for the invasion of the lionfish in the Atlantic Ocean.

Lionfish may live longer than 15 years and reach sizes exceeding 20 inches. Their venomous spines are capable of fending off predators and stinging humans, according to the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), an active organization of divers and marine enthusiasts. Lionfish reproduce throughout the year, nearly every four days, and females can spawn over 2 million eggs per year.

Lionfish are venomous and have up to 18 needle-like spines.  However, the meat of the lionfish is not poisonous. If stung, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommends treating a puncture wound by immersing it in hot water for 30-90 minutes, and seeking medical attention as soon as possible. The Poison Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222 is available 24 hours a day.

Coral reef community population structure and dynamics are at risk as a result of the influx of lionfish. These predators out-compete other species such as fish and invertebrates for food resources and they have few known predators, according to NOAA’s Coral Reef Information System (CORIS) website.

NOAA’s experts believe that lionfish populations will continue to grow and are unable to be controlled with conventional methods. Lionfish are established along the southeastern coast of the United States, Bermuda, the Bahamas and throughout the Caribbean.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recently waived the recreational fishing license requirement to harvest lionfish. The change allows divers to easily assist in the control of the lionfish population. This will allow people to take as many of the invasive fish as possible.
NOAA and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) as well as professional and recreational diving communities are working to help remove and control lionfish. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission encourages people to remove lionfish; they can be speared, caught in hand-held nets or caught on hook and line. Lionfish can be reported to REEF’s

Photo: NOAA

LionFish-kit

Big Lionfish Found at Disturbing Depths

LiveScience.com

by Megan Gannon, News Editor July 14, 2013NatureFlorida
Big Lionfish Found at Disturbing Depths

Lionfish gather near the doorway of this sunken ship, the Bill Boyd, in this image taken by researchers …

The relentless scourge of lionfish has crept to unexpected depths: Off the coast of Florida, researchers say they found the venomous invader thriving around a sunken ship at 300 feet (91 meters) below the water’s surface.

“We expected some populations of lionfish at that depth, but their numbers and size were a surprise,” researcher Stephanie Green, of Oregon State University, said in a statement.

Last month, Green and colleagues investigated the seafloor near Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in a deep-diving Antipodes sub. At 300 feet (91 m) deep, the team witnessed a large number of the spiny fish near the intentionally sunken Bill Boyd cargo ship, an artificial reef created in 1986. [See Photos of Lionfish & Other Freaky Fish]

While lionfish are typically between 12 and 15 inches (30 to 38 centimeters) long, the Oregon State researchers say they saw unusually large specimens as big as 16 inches (40 cm) long.

“This was kind of an ‘Ah hah!’ moment,” Green said. “It was immediately clear that this is a new frontier in the lionfish crisis, and that something is going to have to be done about it. Seeing it up-close really brought home the nature of the problem.”

Big Lionfish Found at Disturbing Depths
A popular aquarium fish and invasive predator, lionfish have a fan of soft, waving fins and venomous …

Native to tropical Indo-Pacific waters, lionfish were introduced to the Atlantic by humans in the 1990s, likely through the exotic pet trade. Now found in reefs from North Carolina to South America, the rapidly reproducing invasive fish have voracious appetites, gobbling up native fish and competing with other species for food resources.

Worse, lionfish have no natural enemies in Atlantic waters, except spear gun-toting humans. Another study, detailed online July 11 in the journal PLOS ONE, found that not even sharks can curb red lionfish populations in Caribbean reefs.

Researchers are trying to figure out what is keeping lionfish in check in the Pacific so that they might stem the Atlantic invasion, which thus far has looked to be unstoppable. Prepared correctly, lionfish are said to make a tasty meal, but one prick from the fish’s venomous spine can cause excruciating pain. Lionfish derbies to bring in big catches of the predator have been held in Florida and the Caribbean.

“A lionfish will eat almost any fish smaller than it is,” Green said in a statement. “Regarding the large fish we observed in the submersible dives, a real concern is that they could migrate to shallower depths as well and eat many of the fish there. And the control measures we’re using at shallower depths — catch them and let people eat them — are not as practical at great depth.”

Lionfish also can produce far more offspring when they are large. A big, mature female in some species can have up to 10 times as many offspring as a female that’s half its size, researchers say.

Beachhunter David McRee talks about OCS Jellyfish sting relief spray..Utube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PXin2I82kE&feature=youtu.be

Highly venomous jellyfish coming to a beach near you…Northeast U.S. sees Man o War

Significant blooms of venomous warm-water species of Mauve jellyfish and the Portuguese Man o War have arrived in numbers along the Atlantic east coast and north east coastal waters to the Hampton’s and beyond respectively.  both deliver potent and very painful stings.Many’s the argument as to the cause for the explosion of jellies worldwide with claims centered on global warming of sea waters is causing the biggest movement of marine species, according to a study by 17 different institutes, called Project Clamer. The Pelagia noctiluca “dominates in many areas and outbreaks have become an annual event, forcing the closing of beaches,” says the report.  “This form of jellyfish is a gluttonous predator of juvenile fish, so researchers consider its spread a harmful trend.”However, there was further bad news as the report also warned that the highly-venomous Portuguese Man O’War is also moving closer and in abundance.

Physalia physalis; a jellyfish-like creature (really a 4 organism siphonophore) usually found in subtropical waters, is more regularly being discovered in northern Atlantic waters as recently as the holiday weekend in Martha’s Vineyard of the Massachusetts coast.  Likely driven by warm current and winds not seen since 2006, the Man o War is not typically found this far north.  It is not uncharacteristic to see the Lion’s Mane, another nasty stinger, in the cooler waters typical to the northern shores now in addition to these animals.

ManOWar-kit

It might be time to buy yourself a new pair of jelly shoes for the beach or take along OCS Jellyfish Sting Relief spray and/or  our MOW 1st Kit…We hope you don’t need it but if you do, you will be glad you have it..The Solution for marine sting injuries…Don’t get stung without it!!

 

Jellyfish return to nation’s coast

They’re back!  And we’re not talking hurricanes, though that season is officially underway.  And, no, this is not about sharks, since Discovery’s Shark Week doesn’t start until August.

No, it’s time for the increasingly unpopular annual return of swarms of jellyfish to beaches around the world. Last year they made much of the western Mediterranean unswimmable. A couple of weekend’s ago – the official start of summer — thousands of nasty, golf-ball sized jellyfish washed ashore on Florida’s east coast, stinging beach goers as they arrive. Red and Purple warning flags were posted on beaches from Cocoa Beach to Cape Canaveral.

In large part thanks to the over fishing of big predator fish and warmer ocean waters, jellies are showing up sooner, in bigger numbers and far beyond home territories. For the first time since 2006, the Portuguese Man o War are in numbers along the New England coast particularly the Hamptons.  In Florida they clogged the shallows and took over the wet sand of the beach. Lifeguard stands stocked up with vinegar-and-water solutions to help try and diffuse the itching, burning and rashes, which beats urinating on them, though its proven that OCS Jellyfish sting relief neutralizes the sting and helps alleviate itching and swelling.

IMG_3501     ManOWar-kit

Despite air temps in the 90’s and water temperature of 80+, it’s not just the abundance of jellyfish in Florida’s that was surprising, it was the species. Large numbers of animals washing ashore are the Pelagia Noctiluca or mauve stinger, the cannonball and the Portuguese Man o War although not in abundance yet.  Compact but fitted with long tentacles, these are exactly the same jellyfish that harassed Mediterranean beaches during the summer of 2012 and present this summer.

jellyfish..Mauve

Scientists believe they were transported across the Atlantic in the Gulf Stream, which wraps around the coast of Florida, suggesting they will be a hindrance on many Gator state beaches this summer. Meanwhile across the pond, biologists who study the Irish Sea are blaming a similar boom in jellyfish there on the overfishing of herring, which has given jellyfish an “exponential boost” in population. The trend has been growing since 2005.

Though explanation for why these jellyfish on these beaches is still being studied, it’s clear that since humankind has taken 100 to 120 million tons of predators out of the sea in the past 20 years it’s left plenty of room for jellyfish populations to boom. Jellyfish thrive in disturbed marine ecosystems, from dead zones to seabeds that have been raked by trawling nets. And they are spreading around the world thanks to powerful currents and aided by stowing away on fleets of ships delivering goods around the globe.

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