[Coral-List] Control of lionfish

Glazer, Bob Bob.Glazer at MyFWC.com
Wed May 6 16:58:56 EDT 2009

During the recent CaMPAM Training of Trainers course in Tobago, a representative from the Bahamas Department of Fisheries related how a pair of lionfish were observed from an ROV platform at greater than 400' - they are here to stay! Kathleen Sullivan-Seeley and others in the Bahamas developed a very comprehensive plan to deal with them.  

Here are the oral and poster abstracts relating to lionfish from the November 2008 GCFI symposium on Invasive Species held in Guadeloupe, FWI:

Lad Akins1 and James Morris2 
1REEF P O Box 246 Key Largo, FL 33037 US Lad at reef.org 2NOAANational Centers for Coastal Ocean Science 101 Pivers Island Rd Beaufort NC 28516 USA 
Lionfish (Pterois miles/volitans) have rapidly become established along the east coast of the U.S., Bermuda, Bahamas, and the north-central Caribbean. A nearly perfect invader, lionfish have spread throughout these regions since 2000 and recent studies have demonstrated significant impacts of lionfish on native reef fish communities. The use of volunteers in early detection and rapid response may provide significant aid in slowing the expansion and controlling populations at key locations of high priority. The Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), a U.S. based NGO, in partnership with NOAA, the USGS, the National Aquarium in Washington D.C., Simon Fraser University, Oregon State University, local dive operators and volunteers has developed methods and materials for outreach, detection, reporting, and response which can serve as a model for downstream countries preparing for the invasion. Volunteer divers and snorkelers are the eyes and ears of the coral reef environment. REEF provides training for these marine enthusiasts in identification and survey techniques and provides materials for them to report their sightings to a central, publicly accessible database (www.reef.org). These data provide a valuable baseline resource and continually updated monitoring information and may be the first line of defense in early detection efforts. Since January 2007, REEF has conducted 15 week-long lionfish projects in the Bahamas. Over 190 volunteers have participated, helping to gather over 1700 specimens for researchers. The protocols developed during these projects provide an example of how volunteer collection teams can be enabled to minimize impacts of lionfish through regular detection and control activities.
KEYWORDS: volunteers, lionfish, fish surveys, stewardship, non-native species 
Mark Albins and Mark Hixon 
Oregon State University, Department of Zoology 3029 Cordley Hall Corvallis, OR 97331 USA albinsm at science.oregonstate.edu 
The Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans), introduced to Florida waters in the early 1990s, is currently spreading rapidly throughout the Caribbean region. This invasive carnivore may cause both direct and indirect deleterious changes in coral-reef ecosystems via predation on native fishes and invertebrates as well as competition with native predators. We are conducting a series of controlled field experiments on a matrix of small patch reefs in the Bahamas to examine the short-term effects of lionfish on native reef fishes. In 2007, lionfish caused significant reductions in the recruitment of native fishes by an average of 79% over a five-week period. Twenty-three of thirty-eight species recruiting to both lionfish-absent (control) reefs and lionfish-present reefs -- including four of five parrotfishes -- were negatively affected by lionfish. This strong effect on a key life stage of a broad variety of coral-reef fishes suggests that invasive lionfish are already having substantial negative impacts on Atlantic coral reefs. In addition to the demonstrated direct predatory effect of lionfish on small fishes, substantial reductions in this important prey resource may indirectly lead to reduced growth and survival of native piscivores. We are currently conducting experiments investigating potential competitive interactions between lionfish and native serranids, including coney and Nassau grouper. We will also present the results of these ongoing investigations. 
KEYWORDS: invasive species, community interactions, piscivory, marine fishes, recruitment 
Hansel Caballero1, Pedro Pablo Chevalier2, and Olaechea Armando2 
1Acuario Nacional Cuba Ave.1ra y 60, Miramar, Playa, Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba hanselc at acuarionacional.cu 2Acuario Nacional de Cuba Ave.1ra, esq.60, Miramar, Playa Ciudad de la Habana Cuba 
The natural distribution of the lionfish Pterois volitans (Linnaeus, 1758) includes the Indian and Pacific oceans in a very extensive area. The finding of this fish in American and Caribbean waters is not new, but was confirmed the occurrence in Cuba since June 2007, when it was observed for first time in the southeast region and in August, more specimens were catch in the central North region, reported by Chevalier et al. (2008). At the moment, U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) has in its data base, around 470 reports (http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/collectioninfo.asp.htm) of the occurrence of the lionfish where includes several reports of the 51 from Cuba until July of the 2008. Our goal is to explain the efforts that the Cuban research institutions are doing, to study biological and ecological aspects of the lionfish in Cuban water. These studies are carried out by the National Aquarium of Cuba (http://www.acuarionacional.cu), with the participation of other institutions dedicated to the marine research with the support of the CHM ("Mechanism of Facilitation for information on biodiversity in Cuba") (www.ecosis.cu/chm/chmcuba.htm), the Project PNUD/GEF (Network of Voluntary Monitoring of Early Alert) (alcolado at ama.cu). Among other aspects, the study includes examine and determine the abundance and distribution of the lionfish in different zones from the Cuban archipelago; to implement a program of environmental education and to develop a data base of sighting of the species in Cuba. 
KEYWORDS: Nonindigenous species, Scorpaenidae, Marine introductions, Lionfish, Pterois volitans 
John Claydon, Marta Calosso, and Siri Jacob 
The School for Field Studies Center for Marine Resource Studies 1 West Street South Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands jclaydon at fieldstudies.org 
The first observation of red lionfish (Pterois volitans/miles) in the waters around South Caicos, Turks & Caicos Islands was made in December 2007. From this time until the end of July 2008, lionfish sightings were recorded by staff and students from The School for Field Studies Center for Marine Resource Studies in South Caicos . Twenty-three individuals have been observed. Although effort was made to capture all specimens seen (with 21 individuals captured), sightings represent opportunistic observations made during other activities. All except one were recorded in waters shallower than 2.5m, and specimens have been found in patch reef (n=14), seagrass (n=6), mangrove (n=2), and deep reef (25m; n=1). Although individuals captured ranged in size from 4.1 to 27.7cm TL, all but 2 individuals were <15cm TL. This study documents the invasion of South Caicos by red lionfish, and although the effects of this invasion are unknown, the exponential increase of sightings per month is worrying. Future monitoring will include targeted searches for red lionfish. 
KEYWORDS: red lionfish, invasion, Turks & Caicos Islands, , 

Stephanie Green and Isabelle Côté 
Simon Fraser University Department of Biological Sciences 8888 University Drive Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6 Canada stephanie.green at sfu.ca 
Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans and P. miles) have recently invaded and rapidly spread throughout temperate and tropical Western Atlantic habitats. Lionfish use an ambush strategy to consume whole prey fish and have few predators in their introduced range. To understand the impacts of lionfish on native fish communities in the Bahamas and to predict their impacts on the wider Caribbean, the prey and habitat preferences of lionfish on reefs along the southwest coast of New Providence, Bahamas, were studied. Prey-sized fish density, diversity and size distribution, reef complexity and topography, and lionfish density and habitat preference data were collected from 14 sites varying in habitat types, depths and lionfish densities. From January 2007 to July 2008, 500 lionfish (TL = 50 - 424 mm) were collected from these sites. Stomach content analysis revealed that lionfish prey heavily on many species and size classes of native reef fish. Comparisons of diet to prey availability suggest preferential predation on species with behavioural characteristics and morphologies that increase encounter rate and ease of capture. Furthermore, compared to total available biomass, lionfish consume a considerable amount of prey biomass from the reef. Finally, lionfish density was positively correlated with both reef complexity and relief, and prey-sized fish density. Results indicate that lionfish have the ability to significantly impact native reef fish communities. These findings can be used in conjunction with fish community and habitat profiles from elsewhere in the Caribbean to predict the impact of lionfish as they continue to spread throughout the region. 
KEYWORDS: invasive species, lionfish, predation, prey selection, habitat selection 

James Morris 
NOAA 101 Pivers Island Rd Beaufort, NC 28516 USA james.morris at noaa.gov 
The Indo-Pacific lionfishes, Pterois volitans and Pterois miles, are now established along the U.S. south east coast, Bermuda, Bahamas, and are presently becoming established in the Caribbean. While the lionfishes are popular in the aquarium trade, little is known regarding the biology and ecology of these species. Given the rapid establishment of lionfish and the potential impacts lionfish may have on native reef fish communities, we set out to describe lionfish reproductive biology, feeding habits, and venomology using laboratory and field observations. Observations of lionfish reproduction indicate that lionfish are iteroparous, asynchronous, indeterminate batch spawners. Lionfish spawning periodicity measurements indicate that lionfish are spawning monthly, with spawning events occurring during most months of the calendar year throughout their invaded range. Laboratory experiments designed to investigate predation on juvenile lionfish indicate that some native reef fishes avoid lionfish as prey, likely due to their venom defence. Lionfish stomach content analyses reveal that lionfish are preying mostly on crustaceans and small-bodied forage fishes including commercially and recreationally important snapper and grouper. These efforts are providing new insight regarding the integrated biology and ecology of the non-native lionfish and further demonstrate the need for aggressive early detection and rapid response efforts in the marine environment. 
KEYWORDS: Pteoris miles, Pterois volitans, lionfish

Kathleen Sullivan Sealey1, Nicola SMITH2, Lakeisha Anderson3, and Deon Stewart 4 
1University of Miami Department of Biology P.O. Box 249118 Coral Gables, Fl 33124 USA ksealey at miami.edu 2Department of ZoologyUniversity of British Columbia 3Department of Marine ResourcesNassau, Bahamas 4Bahamas Environment Science and Technology CommissionNassau, Bahamas 
The invasion of the Indo-Pacific lionfish to Bahamian waters raises considerable concern due to the uncertainty of its ecological impacts and its potential threats to commercial fisheries, tourism and human safety.. Lionfish have been reported throughout the archipelago and are the focus of several research and monitoring initiatives. The Bahamas has a National Invasive Species Strategic Plan, but marine invaders require unique partnerships to gather and collate information, launch educational initiatives, and develop realistic management options. The Government of The Bahamas has limited funds to address major resource management issues; hence, collaboration with non-governmental agencies, and tertiary education institutions is imperative.. The lionfish invasion has created a novel opportunity for the formation of innovative public-private partnerships to address the ecological, social and economic impacts of biological invaders. 
KEYWORDS: Lionfish, Invasion, reefs 


Robert Glazer
Associate Research Scientist
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
2796 Overseas Hwy., Ste. 119
Marathon, FL 33050
305-289-2330; 305-289-2334 (fax)
bob.glazer at myfwc.com

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Lad Akins
Sent: Wednesday, May 06, 2009 3:06 PM
To: 'John Ogden'; 'Brice Semmens'
Cc: 'Coral List'
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Control of lionfish

HI John, Paul, Brice and all.


Glad this issue is catching your eye.  It has been on the radar for some
time now and much is being done in both control and documentation of the
impacts relative to this invasion.


It's been a while since we've updated on the coral list, so I maybe this is
a good time to do so.


Relative to documentation of the impacts, James Morris, Paula Whitfield,
Roldan Munoz and others at NOAA's Beaufort lab as well as others working in
the South Atlantic Bight have been taking a lead role in addressing status
and impacts of this invasion along the US east coast.  Work on reproduction,
age/growth, predation (on and by lionfish), population dynamics, genetics,
parasitology, and more have been either recently published or are in final


Stephanie Green and Isabelle Côté at Simon Fraser University, James Morris
at NOAA, Mark Albins and Mark Hixon at Oregon State, Nicola Smith at
University of British Columbia and others have been looking at similar
issues and impacts relative to coral reef systems in the Bahamas and other
invaded areas of the Caribbean.


REEF has been working in close coordination with those along the US Coast
and in the wider Caribbean to facilitate research but also to implement
outreach/awareness, early detection/rapid response and control programs.
Over the last 6 months we have worked with the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos,
Cayman Islands and the Netherlands Antilles to conduct workshops on
outreach/awareness, detection and response, medical issues, collection and
handling techniques and monitoring and assessment protocols. We were able to
train and license over 160 dive professionals in Cayman alone to respond to
sightings and remove fish via early detection/rapid response protocols.
Upcoming projects and workshops are planned for Belize
(http://www.reef.org/programs/exotic/lionfish/trips) , the Florida Keys,
Bahamas and USVI/PR this summer. (visit www.reef.org/lionfish for updates)


The USGS has been the focal point for databasing lionfish sightings and has
dedicated significant resources to hosting the lionfish sightings database
on their NAS website
(http://nas.er.usgs.gov/taxgroup/fish/lionfishdistribution.asp).  They have
also developed mapping tools and maintain an early warning system to alert
users (anyone can sign up) of lionfish or other non-native species sightings
in new areas.


The recent GCFI (Guadaloupe), ICAIS (Montreal) and the upcoming Marine
Bioinvasions (Portland) conferences all have lionfish special sessions where
the latest work has been/is being presented. There is a very good summary of
what is currently known about lionfish including discussion on control and
management from the recent GCFI symposium


We (NOAA/REEF) now have funding to conduct a series of regional workshops
this summer and fall and many research and control programs are set to start
up early this summer. 


I hope this eases some of the concern relative to the control and impacts
issue.  If you have any questions or would like more info, feel free to
contacts us.  Let's all work together to ensure that research and control
will work hand in hand to come up with successful solutions to this issue.


All the best,







Lad Akins

Director of Special Projects

Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF)

98300 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, FL, 33037

(305) 852-0030

(305) 942-7333 cell

Lad at REEF.org




-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of John Ogden
Sent: Tuesday, May 05, 2009 3:20 PM
To: Brice Semmens
Cc: Coral List
Subject: [Coral-List] Control of lionfish




Good first point and more or less what I meant to say.  Let's 

distinguish control and eradication.  Control (living with) lionfish 

requires knowledge that could be side-tracked by expensive, extensive, 

well-meaning but ultimately futile eradication measures (and there are 

many people thinking this way).  I suggest that the time is now to use 

the event of invasion not just to document but to look at what is 

happening on Caribbean reefs as this invader is established.  Surely 

this will help gather knowledge knowledge useful to control.  In my 

opinion we will be living with lionfish from here on out.




Brice Semmens wrote:

> John,


> No one doubts mosquitoes are here to stay, yet most folk appreciate 

> control efforts (particularly in your neck of the woods!) Efforts 

> aimed at culling lionfish are principally intended to limit impacts to 

> already stressed reef communities. Put another way, the efforts are 

> only futile if the goal is erradication. I don't believe anyone 

> involved in these (well coordinated) efforts has eradication as a goal 

> at this point. It's also worth noting that any rigorous efforts aimed 

> at identifying lionfish impacts on a whole-reef scale should probably 

> attempt some version of BACI... note the 'control' part of BACI.


> So, the big question -- are you suggesting that folks forgo control 

> efforts in order to focus exclusively on documenting the undoubtedly 

> horrific effects of this invasion? To me that's like studying the 

> wiring diagram of a time bomb that's about to go off --  I'd rather 

> spend my time figuring out how to avoid as much of the blast as possible.


> My two cents.

> Brice Semmens






> John Ogden wrote:

>> Thinking back to the Diadema mass mortality of 1983-84 and the 

>> opportunities that were missed because of poor communications across the 

>> region, now would be a very good time to use our superb and ubiquitous 

>> communications to set up a coordinated observation network to see what 

>> is the impact of lionfish on populations of small reef fishes.  It 

>> appears that this idea could be trumped by well-meaning but ultimately 

>> futile attempts to remove them.  Who doubts that they are here to stay?  

>> It would be best we anticipate the future of Caribbean reefs with 

>> lionfish and try to get some data to help get our minds around this.


>> Cheers all.


>>> From: Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute Network

>>> [mailto:GCFINET at LISTSERV.TAMU.EDU] On Behalf Of Dave Anderson

>>> Sent: Sunday, May 03, 2009 9:24 PM


>>> Subject: [GCFINET] Cayman Islands Lionfish Update




>>> This message was originally submitted by Bradley Johnson

>>> [mailto:Bradley.Johnson at gov.ky]  to GCFINet. 


>>> Hi all,




>>> As of 30th April 2009 we have caught 90 lionfish! This includes the 2

>>> in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman in 2008 and 3 live specimens. They have

>>> been caught in water ranging from 3' down to 110', on all sides of the

>>> islands, and in all habitats.




>>> By island we have: 


>>> Grand Cayman - 44;


>>> Cayman Brac - 8;


>>> Little Cayman - 38. 




>>> Cayman Brac was hit by Hurricane Paloma in November and sustained severe

>>> damage to the Island, including their dive operations. The sightings
have so

>>> far been primarily from divers, so with practically no diving in the
Brac we

>>> are getting fewer reports of lionfish from there. We assume this will

>>> increase once the dive operations reopen.




>>> We have licensed approximately 163 divers to remove lionfish for us

>>> 130 in Grand, 3 in the Brac, and 30 in LC. We will increase the number

>>> licensed divers in the Brac once they get more dive staff back.






>>> Bradley C. Johnson 

>>> Research Officer

>>> Department of Environment

>>> Cayman Islands Government 

>>> PO Box 486 

>>> Grand Cayman  KY1-1106 


>>> 345-949-8469 Office

>>> 345-244-4168 Direct

>>> 345-949-4020 Fax 


>>> Website www.doe.ky 




>>> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




>>> ------------------------------------


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John C. Ogden, Director

Florida Institute of Oceanography

Professor of Integrative Biology

University of South Florida

830 First Street South

St. Petersburg, FL 33701 USA

Tel. 727-553-1100

Fax  727-553-1109





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