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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.

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.

Be sure to take along Ocean Care Solutions marine sting 1st aid products..your Solution for marine sting injuries…

Bermuda Fire Coral..a painful experience

Millepora alcicornus is a common member of the Caribbean reefs and across the Bermuda platform. These hydrozoans are members of the family Milleporidae.  The hydrocorals can be found in varying habitats including deep reefs, surf zones and reef flats but are restricted mainly to coral reefs.  M. alcicornis gets its name fire coral from the painful stings it can inflict on Scuba divers and snorkelers.

Fire coral Fist Aid Kits

FireCoral-kit

Don’t get stung without it!

Jellyfish facts…Everything you need to know…

Jellyfish are categorized due to their characteristics. The different species of jellyfish are the Red Type which is also known as the ‘China type’ can be identified as Rhopilema esculentum. These jellyfish are slightly reddish with a 12-24 inch diameter smooth umbrella.

The jellyfish is a popular seafood in eastern and southern Asian nations where there is a high market demand that stimulates large-scale jellyfish production. Due to its economic importance in China, many biological studies have focused on the jellyfish Rhopilema esculentum Kishinouye in terms of the environmental impact of aquaculture activities and culture techniques. In recent years, the commercial aquaculture of R. esculentum has expanded greatly in China

Key Lab of Marine Environmental Science and Ecology, Ministry of Education, Ocean University of China, Qingdao, 266100, China
Photo..M Kawahara

Lionfish concern at Forida’s Reef

Pretty much everything about the venomous lionfish—its red-and-white zebra stripes, long, showy pectoral fins, and generally cantankerous demeanor—says, “Don’t touch!”

The venom of the lionfish, delivered via an array of up to 18 needle-like dorsal fins, is purely defensive. It relies on camouflage and lightning-fast reflexes to capture prey, mainly fish and shrimp. A sting from a lionfish is extremely painful to humans and can cause nausea and breathing difficulties, but is rarely fatal.

Lionfish, also called turkey fish, dragon fish and scorpion fish, are native to the reefs and rocky crevices of the Indo-Pacific, although they’ve found their way to warm ocean habitats worldwide.

Currently they are a big cause for concern at Florida’s reef as they have few natural enemies such as some big shark species. They are taking over in large numbers and multiplying quickly eating many other endangered reef fish. Speculation of their release ranges from Hurricane Sandy’s destructive path to mis-guided fish collectors that released them when they could not make money from their sale.

Celene Couseau ( http://celinecousteau.wordpress.com/ ) has attested to their tasting good making them somewhat popular to very careful spear fishermen.

Learn, Connect, Defend!
www.OceanDefenderHawaii.com

Some of the information above is from National Geographic
Photo: Andy Wingate (tagged)

Photo: Pretty much everything about the venomous lionfish—its red-and-white zebra stripes, long, showy pectoral fins, and generally cantankerous demeanor—says, "Don't touch!"

The venom of the lionfish, delivered via an array of up to 18 needle-like dorsal fins, is purely defensive. It relies on camouflage and lightning-fast reflexes to capture prey, mainly fish and shrimp. A sting from a lionfish is extremely painful to humans and can cause nausea and breathing difficulties, but is rarely fatal.

Lionfish, also called turkey fish, dragon fish and scorpion fish, are native to the reefs and rocky crevices of the Indo-Pacific, although they've found their way to warm ocean habitats worldwide.

Currently they are a big cause for concern at Florida's reef as they have few natural enemies such as some big shark species. They are taking over in large numbers and multiplying quickly eating many other endangered reef fish. Speculation of their release ranges from Hurricane Sandy's destructive path to mis-guided fish collectors that released them when they could not make money from their sale. 

Celene Couseau ( http://celinecousteau.wordpress.com/ ) has attested to their tasting good making them somewhat popular to very careful spear fishermen. 

Learn, Connect, Defend!
www.OceanDefenderHawaii.com

Some of the information above is from National Geographic
Photo: Andy Wingate (tagged)

New jellyfish species discovered on Gold Coast..Australia

ABC News Gold Coast  

A curious child from Paradise Point is responsible for the discovery of a new species of box jellyfish found in a local canal.  Nine-year-old Saxon Thomas found the new species when fishing in his backyard canal.  Scientists have now confirmed the jellyfish is a new scientific discovery.

But Australian Marine Stinger Advisory services director Lisa Gershwin says there is a lot more to learn about it.  “We’re still trying to name it,” Ms Gershwin says.

“I haven’t met Saxon yet but my intention is to one of these days when I meet him ask him what he would like it to be named… I wanna give him the choice to name it because I think it’s such a wonderful thing that here’s these kids out playing with nature and going ‘hey wait, that’s different – what’s that?’ – and now we know. What a fabulous find.”

Queensland Museum’s marine expert Doctor Merrick Ekins has examined the jellyfish.

“A new species is always very exciting. We’ve got a bit more work to do to work out exactly what it is… but it’s definitely in the same family as the box jellyfish. But it’s not THE box jellyfish which is a big relief,” Dr Ekins says.

“The first thing we did was to make sure it wasn’t thechironex fleckeri box jellyfish that’s infamous for killing people, because if that’s suddenly appearing down here on the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast then that would be a real issue for swimmers.”

However, it is not yet known if this new species is dangerous in its own way.

“We don’t know about that… whether it gives you a sting is most likely. It’s probably not life threatening but we don’t know.”

Expand/Collapse

Red Sea Fire Urchin…

Asthenosoma marisrubri (‘flexible body of the Red Sea’) aka Red Sea Fire Urchin and Toxic Leather Sea Urchin , is a relatively common sea urchin with a widespread distribution in the Indo-Pacific, and it subsists on a great variety of food including algae, coral polyps and bottom detritus. It is most active at night and is named for the extreme pain inflicted by its spines and its occurrence in the Red Sea.

SeaUrchin-kit

www.oceancaresolutions

Sea Urchin first aid kit

Don’t get stung without it!

 

Stingray Facts…Cownose rays are related to sharks and skates

Photo: Stingray facts....The Cownose Ray....Cownose rays are related to sharks and skates. This stingray belongs to the Family Myliobatidae, which includes bat rays, manta rays and eagle rays.</p>
<p>Cownose rays get their name from their unique forehead, which resembles the nose of a cow. They are brown to olive-colored on top with no spots, and pale below. Cownose males are about 2½ feet across. Females are 2-3 feet across.The tail is about twice as long as the body. Beach-goers sometimes mistake these rays for sharks. When the rays are swimming near the surface, the tips of the wings sometimes stick out of the water, resembling a shark's dorsal fin.</p>
<p>Cownose rays can be found in the Atlantic Ocean along western Africa, the eastern U.S., the Gulf of Mexico and parts of the Caribbean. They are considered an open ocean species, but can inhabit inshore, shallow bays and estuaries. They prefer warm temperate and tropical waters to depths of 72 feet. Many gather in Chesapeake Bay during the summer months.</p>
<p>Cownose rays feed on bottom-dwelling shellfish, lobster, crabs and fish. To locate their prey, cownose rays have electroreceptors on their snouts as well as excellent senses of smell and touch. They will stir up the bottom with their flexible wing tips or use their noses to root around in the mud or sand. Once they find their prey, they flap their wings rapidly to move the sand aside.</p>
<p>They suck water and sand into their mouths and blow it out through their gills to create a depression in the sand that allows easier access to their food.</p>
<p>They have very strong teeth arranged in flat plates that are perfect for crunching hard-shelled prey. These rays spit out the shells of the animals they eat, and only swallow the soft body parts.</p>
<p>Stingrays are known for their stingers, but they are actually very docile creatures. Cownose rays school and migrate in large groups, sometimes up to thousands of individuals. They are strong swimmers and can migrate long distances. Scientists believe that the migrations may be triggered by seasonal changes in water temperature and sun orientation.</p>
<p>They have been seen jumping clear out of the water and landing on their bellies, making loud smacking sounds. They don't rest on the bottom as much as other types of stingrays.</p>
<p>Article courtesy of St Louis Zoo

Cownose rays get their name from their unique forehead, which resembles the nose of a cow. They are brown to olive-colored on top with no spots, and pale below. Cownose males are about 2½ feet across. Females are 2-3 feet across.The tail is about twice as long as the body. Beach-goers sometimes mistake these rays for sharks. When the rays are swimming near the surface, the tips of the wings sometimes stick out of the water, resembling a shark’s dorsal fin.

Cownose rays can be found in the Atlantic Ocean along western Africa, the eastern U.S., the Gulf of Mexico and parts of the Caribbean. They are considered an open ocean species, but can inhabit inshore, shallow bays and estuaries. They prefer warm temperate and tropical waters to depths of 72 feet. Many gather in Chesapeake Bay during the summer months.

Cownose rays feed on bottom-dwelling shellfish, lobster, crabs and fish. To locate their prey, cownose rays have electroreceptors on their snouts as well as excellent senses of smell and touch. They will stir up the bottom with their flexible wing tips or use their noses to root around in the mud or sand. Once they find their prey, they flap their wings rapidly to move the sand aside.

They suck water and sand into their mouths and blow it out through their gills to create a depression in the sand that allows easier access to their food.

They have very strong teeth arranged in flat plates that are perfect for crunching hard-shelled prey. These rays spit out the shells of the animals they eat, and only swallow the soft body parts.

Stingrays are known for their stingers, but they are actually very docile creatures. Cownose rays school and migrate in large groups, sometimes up to thousands of individuals. They are strong swimmers and can migrate long distances. Scientists believe that the migrations may be triggered by seasonal changes in water temperature and sun orientation.

They have been seen jumping clear out of the water and landing on their bellies, making loud smacking sounds. They don’t rest on the bottom as much as other types of stingrays.

Stingray-kit

Article courtesy of St Louis Zoo

Jellyfish Facts…The “Pink Meanie”

Meet the “pink meanie,” a new species of jellyfish discovered by scientists at Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the University of California, Merced.From Discovery News–On the surface, this brightly colored jellyfish may not appear to be particularly extraordinary. According to DNA and morphological analysis, however, this marine animal, Drymonema larsoni, is not only a new species of jellyfish, but also a new family.

Found in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, the pink meanie is the first new scyphozoan family discovered since 1921.

“It’s rare that something like this could escape the notice of scientific research for so long,” Keith Bayha, a scientist at at Dauphin Island Sea Lab, said in a press release. “That it did is partially due to Drymonema‘s extreme rarity almost everywhere in the world.”

Discovery News

Photo: Jellyfish facts....#52....Meet the “pink meanie,” a new species of jellyfish discovered by scientists at Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the University of California, Merced.</p>
<p>From Discovery News--On the surface, this brightly colored jellyfish may not appear to be particularly extraordinary. According to DNA and morphological analysis, however, this marine animal, Drymonema larsoni, is not only a new species of jellyfish, but also a new family.</p>
<p>Found in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, the pink meanie is the first new scyphozoan family discovered since 1921.</p>
<p>“It’s rare that something like this could escape the notice of scientific research for so long,” Keith Bayha, a scientist at at Dauphin Island Sea Lab, said in a press release.  “That it did is partially due to Drymonema‘s extreme rarity almost everywhere in the world.”</p>
<p>Discovery News