[Coral-List] Teaching Mega-Fauna to eat Invasive P. Volitans

David Kerstetter kerstett at nova.edu
Sun Mar 13 17:23:27 EDT 2016

Hello, Damien.

I¹ve avoided wading in here on this topic, but a few minor points to start:
* There¹s a large and important difference between culling lionfish and
leaving them dead on a reef to be scavenged versus actively feeding
predator fishes.  If you¹re not comfortable keeping fish in a bag yourself
(or advocating others to do so), actively feeding speared lionfish to
other fishes is not the only option.
* My experiences with both charter fisheries and dive operators is that
they¹ll generally do anything to increase marketability and sales as long
as it doesn¹t incur any additional risk to their customers.  Thus, if dive
operators are collectively denouncing an activity as dangerous, I¹ll
gladly defer to their expertise.
* No-one has demonstrated a ³learned behavior² in these predatory fishes,
such that they will actively feed on lionfish other than during human
feeding operations, nor do I see any sort of ³teaching² mechanism even
possible.  My experience with the available scientific literature is that
such secondary learning involved with independent hunting has not been
demonstrated in these predatory fishes.
* Finally, it IS possible to hook-and-line lionfish, and the IGFA now has
a current record for the species (and several others pending).  It¹s not
easy, nor do they put up any kind of recreationally exciting fight, but it
is a way that some local folks in South Florida can throw a couple of
lionfish in the fishbox on the way home by stopping on an isolated deep
wreck.  See http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/outdoors/article4958574.html
for more details.

In a larger sense, I find your conflation of anecdotal observations (and
videos) with peer-reviewed science problematic.  When Lad (among others)
provided citations and other information, you seem to have ignored it,
instead offering a list of ³Theories² reads more like a ramble.  If you¹d
like to advocate ‹ as you appear to at one point below ‹ for a ³lionfish
hunting certification² of some sort (presumably including safety training
regarding their handling), then that¹s a completely different matter for
this group to discuss rather than your advocating for feeding lionfish to
aggressive predatory fishes.

Best regards, David


David W. Kerstetter, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Halmos College of Natural Sciences & Oceanography
Nova Southeastern University
8000 North Ocean Drive
Dania Beach, FL 33004 USA
(954) 262-3664 office / (804) 854-9030 cell / (954) 262-4098 fax

Associate Editor, North American Journal of Fisheries Management

On 3/12/16, 2:02 PM, "coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov on behalf of
Damien Beri" <coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov on behalf of
beridl at g.cofc.edu> wrote:
>Thanks for your input.
>Here I will propose a series of argument points that seem most critical,
>followed by my conclusion based on what I have heard this far. Thank you
>for your time, please read what I have wrote thoughtfully and fully.
>Please do not skip over parts or sections you don't understand, as each
>aspect and sentence is critical.  If you don't understand something
>please let me know, we all have different ways interpretation.
>We aren't going to stop people from hunting Lionfish.
>Carribean dive industries will not give up spearing Lionfish.
>We know average grouper sizes needed for effective biocontrol on Lionfish
>is negligible in the Carribean, as the average size of grouper is 178g
>respectfully, when it needs to be 1000g<
>Humans introduced Lionfish; our interaction with them goes beyond,
>"should we hunt them," we are responsible for them.
>Lionfish cannot be "fished" for by rod a reel.  They are also the only
>species of fish that people can use diving equipment to hunt, for the
>most part.  This makes your average Joe diver able to effectively hunt,
>kill, and promote predator interactions on a more regular level.
>Culling of Lionfish on reefs has shown positive increases in natural
>predation on Lionfish.  I will provide a video in which I prove that
>Groupers, barracuda, and sharks will seek out Lionfish for divers to kill.
>Regardless of whether we feed Lionfish to sharks, morays, or groupers,
>the act of hunting the Lionfish has unarguably proven to increase
>dangerous and "scary" interactions with natural predators.  Whether we
>leave the Lionfish dead/injured on the reef, or take it to the surface we
>are seeing increased reports of diver to predator interactions, some
>being dangerous.
>If one wants to argue that we should keep Lionfish in a container on a
>dive, than that's by far the most absurd argument there is.  Last year a
>student was dragged to their death by their "Lionfish container."  Why
>would you cover yourself in the smell of dead fish?
>The fact of the matter is, we need to implement select regions where dive
>industries and non-profits can make money off of the tourism attractions
>this activity provides.  However, people should be aware of what they are
>going into as we can never fully predict the outcome.  I wouldn't be
>surprised to see companies like PADI begin to offer certifications for
>Lionfish feeding, a two week course seems pretty lucrative.  We need to,
>as a community developed and effective way to manage this activity.
>Perhaps an NGO non-profit that certifies and regulates this activity of
>"predator feeding," while allocating profits to more research on the
>topic, instead of people bashing the idea right away because "your not an
>expert."  The people who I worked with doing this were the ones who
>started it.  By no means are they an expert, but by no means do we have a
>scale to compare this "expertise" to!
>I see no scientific study that proves that more dangerous diving
>interactions between predators and divers are a direct result of said
>predators being directly fed by humans.  On the contrary, these
>predators, when stimulated by; smell, spear action, and diver presence,
>actually get more aggressive when they know their is edible, injured fish
>around, and they can't find it because it's mixed in with a group of
>divers inside someone's container or on the end of a spear.
>Warm regards,
>Damien Beri

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