[Coral-List] Connectivity and Lion Fish

G.P. Schmahl george.schmahl at noaa.gov
Tue May 31 16:06:25 EDT 2011

   Gene - the lionfish distribution used in the referenced paper was a little
   old.  Sitings in 2010 documented the presence of lionfish at several oil and
   gas platforms off Louisiana and on natural habitat at Sonnier Bank (about 70
   miles east of the Flower Garden Banks), and additional reports off west
   Florida.  We expect them to arrive at the Flower Garden Banks soon, if they
   are not there already.  We have been monitoring for them for the last few
   years.  I'm not sure why it has taken so long for them to arrive in the
   northern Gulf.
   See:  [1]http://nas.er.usgs.gov/taxgroup/fish/lionfishdistribution.aspx
   Eugene Shinn wrote:

Thank you Matthew, Your paper is most interesting. Several things
stand out. There are no Lion Fish sightings in the windward islands?
Only one sighting in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida? There were early
abundant sightings in the Bahamas and off the Carolinas long before
they were seen in the Florida Keys in 2009! I find it surprising that
they are present off New York but not in the northern Gulf of Mexico?
      In 1981 I observed them in abundance  beneath oil rigs off the
Philippines. One would think they should also occur under the rigs in
the northern Gulf of Mexico or at the Flower Gardens or Stetson bank
which is constantly monitored. Hopefully this posting will stimulate
some sightings in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Last summer USGS
divers (total of 12 divers) spent many hours core drilling 50 feet at
the Florida Middle Grounds. Had they been present lion fish should
have been spotted by this team of divers.
      Lack of Lion fish in the windward islands is not too surprising
due to the Trade Winds-assisted westward current flow. I am reminded
that that back in 1983 the Diadema sp blight reached the windward
islands reefs in less than a year. The Caribbean-wide sea fan  blight
caused by the soil fungus Aspergillus sydowii  also reached the
windward islands including San Salvador. How  fungal spores can
travel upcurrent to places like San Salvador remains a mystery. And
don't forget the  Acropora blight that Also peaked most everywhere in
the Caribbean between 1983 and 1984.
     One hypothesis for the early proliferation of Lion Fish in the
Bahamas points to the huge Atlantis aquarium off Nassau. They filter
the sea water going in but not going out!


   George (G.P.) Schmahl

   Sanctuary Superintendent

   National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

   Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

   4700 Avenue U, Building 216

   Galveston, TX  77551

   (409) 621-5151 ext. 102

   (409) 621-1316 (fax)

   [2]george.schmahl at noaa.gov



   1. http://nas.er.usgs.gov/taxgroup/fish/lionfishdistribution.aspx
   2. mailto:george.schmahl at noaa.gov
   3. http://flowergarden.noaa.gov/

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