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Invasive Species: Indo-Pacific LionFish (Pterois volitans) in the Atlantic and Caribbean Sea!

GVI Mexico – August Achievements

The invasion of lionfish, native to the Indo-Pacific, into the Atlantic and Caribbean Sea is not only one of the most rapid in marine history but also having extremely detrimental effects to local species and ecosystems.

Recently introduced via un/intentional release, they have spread extremely quickly throughout the Caribbean, since their first sightings around Florida in 2000, they have spread as far south as Venezuela within 10 years1.

While in their native habitat, lionfish breed seasonally, invasive lionfish in the Atlantic have been documented breeding all-year round2. They can produce between 4000 and 30,000 eggs each time they spawn which are then dispersed great distances along oceanic surface currents, during an estimated pelagic larval duration of 20 to 35 days, before settlement3. Unlike other fish species, Lionfish can settle on and inhabit nearly all marine habitat types and depths between surface levels to over 300m, in temperatures between10-35 degrees Celsius4,5. However, with the rising sea temperatures due to global warming, this potentially invasive region is increasing. Lionfish are also generalist carnivores that can consume over 70 species of fish, up to half their own body length, including commercially, recreationally, and ecologically important species6. On heavily invaded sites, lionfish consume native fish at unsustainable rates. As such, food competition can also lead to depleting food sources for native carnivores.

Here at Pez Maya we have been collecting information on the invasive lionfish so as to document its effects on the local ecosystem. So far this year the average number of sightings per dive per week has been slowly increasing.

As well as a steady increase in the average number of sightings per dive, there is also a noticeable increase in the sizes of lionfish seen on our dive sites. This general increase in size supports theories that invasive lionfish are larger than they are in their native ranges7, suggesting higher levels of local prey consumption and lionfish reproduction this year. In fact, we caught three individuals, one male and two females, that had fully developed and spawning capable gonads or very developed gonads nearing spawning capability.                                                                                                                

Lionfish can inhabit nearly all habitat types, including important nursery areas such as mangroves and lagoon areas, and other areas with high levels of trophic interaction such as the fore-reef and reef crest. As such we have frequently observed lionfish within the reserve at our inner-reef dive sites, such as “Gardens”, which are commonly used as a nursery habitat for juvenile reef fish.

Invasive adult lionfish, however, have been documented as having a preferred microhabitat of complex topographical structures, especially overhanging structures, and lots of coral cover8, such as our dive site “Special K”. As such, the invasive lionfish exhibited similar patterns of microhabitat occupancy as two local, and already over fished, species; the Grouper and Snapper complex, as seen at our local dive site “Hang 10”. The additional stress put on these species through this direct food competition is hindering any efforts to replenish the declining Grouper and Snapper populations.

As discussed before, on heavily invaded reefs lionfish can consume prey faster than their production on, or recruitment to, the reef. As such, the additional stress put on these species through this direct food competition is hindering any efforts to replenish the declining Grouper and Snapper populations. Also, the lionfish is having a negative impact on the Meso-American barrier reef system through the unsustainable consumption of newly recruited herbivorous species by invasive lionfish is limiting algal grazing on a reef system that is already in threat of a shift to an algal dominated reef.

Lionfish feed primarily on teleosts, fish with bony skeletons, which include the majority of the local marine species, and few other crustaceans, primarily shrimps, more commonly consumed by smaller classes of lionfish. However, lionfish are generalist consumers and will quickly abandon their usual diet for any abundant food source.

Because lionfish captured and removed from an area would “be replaced largely through larval recruitment rather than migration of older individuals”9, “localized control efforts would need to be carried out frequently in order to maintain a  younger, smaller population”10, which can be very costly and  makes eradication programs extremely difficult.

However, the data collected here is very useful for future planning of local control efforts and will hopefully be used to co-ordinate our future lionfish control efforts which, if implemented well, can control local populations and even generate income for local communities. Also, and possibly more importantly, lionfish ceviche is a very welcome addition to base cuisine!

 

To find out more about the research going on in Mexico, please have a search through our current programs, ourblog, or feel free to contact us for more information – we would love to hear from you!

Alternatively, you can make a difference to our projects in Mexico now by making a donation to our Charitable Trust project, ‘Protect Marine Ecosystems in Mexico’.

 

1: Morris, J (2009): Biology, Ecology, Control and Management of the Invasive Indo-Pacific Lionfish: An Updated Integrated Assessment

2: Morris, J (2011): Oogenesis and spawn formation in the invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans)

3: Green, S (2011): Potential effects of climate change on a marine invasive: The importance of current context

4: Biggs, C (2011): Multi-scale habitat occupancy of invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans) in coral reef environments of Roatanm Hondorus

5: Kimball, M: (2004) – Thermal tolerance and potential distribution of invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans/ miles complex) on the east coast of the        United States.

6: Green, S (2012):  Invasive Lionfish Drive Atlantic Coral Reef Fish Declines

7: Green, S (2011): Indo-Pacific lionfish are larger and more abundant on invaded reefs: a comparison of Kenyan and Bahamian lionfish populations

8: Biggs, C (2011): Multi-scale habitat occupancy of invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans) in coral reef environments of Roatanm Hondorus

9: Barbour, A: (2011): Evaluating the Potential Efficacy of Invasive Lionfish (Pterois volitans) Removals.

10: Ibid

 

Ocean Care Solutions new Lionfish Sting 1st Aid Kit expands company family of marine sting first aid products

Ocean Care Solutions is devoted to providing safe and effective marine sting first aid products for the consumer.  Our products have been tested true as each individual kit follows the medically accepted first aid protocol supported by life saving agencies, physicians and medical facility research groups worldwide.  Each kit has all the components necessary, with easy to follow instructions, to provide immediate 1st aid medical attention on a variety of marine stingers.  No matter what you pleasure at the ocean; sport fishing, surfing, scuba, distance swimming, snorkeling or just hangin’ out in the surf, always be prepared with Ocean Care Solutions first aid products….Available on line or select retailers…Ask for it by name..You’ll be glad your did !!

ocs fmly5 IMG_0032

 

Beachhunter.net David McRee product review of Ocean Care Solutions new Lionfish Sting 1st aid kit.

Reducing Lionfish Polulations..

Faced with a dramatic reduction of native populations of fish–which support fishing and diving recreational tourism–nearly everyone is working to reduce the lionfish populations. From spearfishing to hook and lining, any method to get them out of the water is seen as a step in the right direction. Citizen organizations like LionFishHunters and The Lionfish PSA have sprung up to educate the public and direct us toward steps necessary to control this opportunistic species.

Especially in the Florida Keys, locals are trying hard to put lionfish on the menu in seafood restaurants, hoping we can eat them into submission. Lionfish is reported to have an excellent taste and is often compared to hogfish or snapper. It’s not dangerous to eat because the poison is only contained in the spines. The meat is safe to eat.

Want to know how to clean and cook a lionfish? Here’s a great 4 minute video to show you how:

For a very well produced video by CNN on the lionfish problem, check out the 7 minute video below:

Below are some additional links to information about the Florida lionfish “invasion.”

Reef.org – Report a lionfish sighting and learn more about the whole lionfish thing, including links to some restaurants that have lionfish on the menu.

Mote Tropical Research Lab lionfish info. An excellent web site with a lot of information and links to other resources.

Content courtesy of David McRee..Beachhunter.net

http://www.blogthebeach.com/2012/nature/fish/lionfish-in-florida-problems-and-solutions

Related posts:

  1. Indo-Pacific Lionfish Threaten Florida
  2. Product Review: First Aid Kit for Marine Animal Stings: Jellyfish, Stingrays, Urchins, Fire Coral
  3. Dolphin Stranding with Happy Ending

Lionfish envenomation 1st aid kit developed by Ocean Care Solutions

Lionfish are colorful marine fish with venomous spiky fin rays. Its presence is increasing around the seas of the world and present a danger to fishermen, divers and swimmers. Its venom can lead to extreme pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, breathing difficulties, convulsions, dizziness, redness on the affected area, headaches, and numbness although its venom is rarely fatal.

This chilling animated graphic shows the population explosion of poisonous lionfish in Florida, the Caribbean, the Bahamas and the Atlantic seaboard between 1986 and 2011: http://nas.er.usgs.gov/taxgroup/fish/Lionfishanimation.gif 

Treating Lionfish Sting Injuries

Being stung by the long, thin, needle-sharp spines of even a small lionfish generally results in a fire-like pain which is often localized to the area stung, but may travel along the extremity. Expect swelling. Needless to say, a sting to the head, neck or body cavity is more serious and should be considered a medical emergency. It is possible that a portion of the spine may break off in the wound, requiring surgical intervention. Infection is always a possibility. A host of other symptoms and complications are possible.

First-aid for a lionfish sting (before you can get to a doctor) mainly consists of applying heat, which destroys the venom. The problem is, where are you going to get heat if you are out on a boat or standing on a dock?

Ocean Care Solutions has developed a lionfish sting first-aid kit that has what you need. It should be available around mid-January 2013 and will retail for around $20. The supplies contained in the kit are based on treatment protocols with scientific and medical support and derive from medical data and injury reports.
Ocean Care Solutions Lionfish Sting First-Aid Kit

What’s in the OCS Lionfish Sting First-Aid Kit?

  • Moist towelette for cleaning hands
  • Latex-free gloves
  • Gauze pad to help slow bleeding
  • Sterile saline solution for rinsing wound
  • Forceps / tweezers to remove spines
  • Instant Heat Pack to alleviate pain
  • Elastic wrap for holding heat pack in place
  • Ocean Care Solutions triple antibiotic ointment
  • Adhesive bandages

Ocean Care Solutions is a pioneer in the development of effective, convenient and affordable first-aid kits for marine sting injuries, including for jellyfish, stingrays, sea urchins, fire-coral, and Portuguese Man-of-War.

Ocean Care Solutions’ products were nominated for the 2012 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

Below are the instructions as shown on the back of the foil packet which houses the kit. Click on the image below to enlarge it enough to read:

Click image to enlarge

Content courtesy of David McRee..Beachhunter.net

http://www.blogthebeach.com/2012/nature/fish/lionfish-in-florida-problems-and-solutions

Ocean Care Solutions Does Its Lion Share Of Work

 

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2012

Posted by Steve Munatones

Ocean Care Solutions Does Its Lion Share Of Work

Ron Adley announced a new Ocean Care Solutions for Lionfish Kit. “The kit will be available by January 15th. It is another product in our increasing line of marine sting products including a newly formulated jellyfish sting relief spray.”Lionfish are colorful marine fish with venomous spiky fin rays. Its presence is increasing around the seas of the world and present a danger to fishermen, divers and swimmers. Its venom can lead to extreme pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, breathing difficulties, convulsions, dizziness, redness on the affected area, headaches, and numbness although its venom is rarely fatal.

As Adley knows well from his travels, lionfish stings can produce discomfort over several days as well as severe allergic reactions that can cause breathing difficulties, swelling of the tongue, and slurred speech.

Ocean Care Solutions‘ products were nominated for the 2012 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.The nomination of Ocean Care Solutions reads, “Care is its middle name. Ocean Care Solutions is working hard to help stem the tide of the pain and discomfort caused by stinging organisms. Its products enable comforting relief from a number of jellyfish, Portuguese man o war, sea urchins, fire coral and stingrays.

Ocean Care Solutions goes beyond supplying a wide range of first aid kits that are widely acclaimed the world over. It provides information, a constant source of education about the global proliferation of jellyfish in the world’s oceans.

For its desire to relief pain by working directly with the stakeholders in the open water swimming world, for its wide range of soothing solutions, for its sharing of information about the sea stingers that are a growing menace in the aquatic world, the Ocean Care Solutions line-up is a worthy nominee for the 2012 WOWSA Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.”

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source