[Coral-List] Natural Predation and Lionfish

Jennifer Chapman jen at blueventures.org
Wed Apr 23 18:54:20 EDT 2014

Dear listers,

Given that lionfish envenomation is known to be fatal to some fish,
including potential predators (Allen & Eschmeyer, 1973), it could be
considered irresponsible to encourage predatory fish in the Atlantic to
feed upon lionfish. Morris (2009) conducted lab trials that show grouper
exhibit significant avoidance to lionfish, even following prolonged
starvation. Lionfish's venomous spines have evolved to form an effective
defence against predation in their native ranges; there is no reason to
believe predators in the Atlantic are immune.

As so rightly pointed out by Alina, grouper biomass is at an all time low:
let's not teach them to eat something that could kill them.

Jennifer K. Chapman
Country Coordinator
Blue Ventures
Belize, C.A.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Szmant, Alina" <szmanta at uncw.edu>
To: "Lad at reef.org" <Lad at reef.org>, "'Steve Mussman'" <sealab at earthlink.net>,
"coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Date: Mon, 21 Apr 2014 11:35:03 -0400
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Natural Predation and Lionfish
Looking at the data in this paper, it seems that even the sites with the
largest amounts of predators (e.g. grouper biomass graph only went up to
5000 gm (50 x 100) which is an 11 lb fish...tiny by old day standards.  I
don't think there is anywhere in the Caribbean where you can go and find
the kinds of predator biomass that used to exist even in the 1960s let
along pre-Columbus.

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds
discuss people." Eleanor Roosevelt

"The time is always right to do what is right"  Martin Luther King

Dr. Alina M. Szmant
Professor of Marine Biology
AAUS Scientific Diving Lifetime Achievement Awardee
Center for Marine Science
University of North Carolina Wilmington
5600 Marvin Moss Ln
Wilmington NC 28409 USA
tel:  910-962-2362  fax: 910-962-2410  cell: 910-200-3913

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Steve Mussman <sealab at earthlink.net>
To: Lad at reef.org, coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Date: Mon, 21 Apr 2014 16:06:55 -0400 (GMT-04:00)
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Natural Predation and Lionfish

   Another example of natural balances being thrown off by careless human
   intervention. We agree that it would be nice if natural predators could
   reef managers control an invasive species, but conditioning increasingly
   scarce numbers of potential predators to do so raises a number of ethical
   questions. As for our industry (I assume you mean diving) working hard to
   move away from fish feeding  .. . .  I have to take issue with that.
Case in
   point is Stingray City and if anything, the diving industry now condones
   extols the shark feeding concept. Both shark feeding and feeding
lionfish to
   predators is being promoted as a way to advance conservation efforts, but
   are  they  really  serving the best interests of the species involved?
   Shouldn't our industry react with more consistency when addressing both
   these (feeding) issues?  It is hard for me to envision a Nassau grouper
   being more rambunctious or conceivably more unsafe than a tiger shark
   fed no matter what the methods. Seems to me that the goal should be to
   protect them both in a natural and wild setting.     Steve

     -----Original Message-----
     From: Lad Akins
     Sent: Apr 21, 2014 11:42 AM
     To: 'Steve Mussman' , coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
     Subject: RE: [Coral-List] Natural Predation and Lionfish

   HI Steve,

   I agree that if predators could help divers then we would be achieving a
   higher level of control.  The problem is that these predators are
   divers â even to the point of injury and cessation of removal efforts at
   sites where the predators have become too rambunctious.  Not sure what
   tethering  really proves.  If someone wanted to document the effect of
   conditioned predators, simply curtailing culling at these sites in
Cayman to
   see what effect the predators have would answer the question.  Barring
   we see from Hacekrott, Valdivia and others that top predators are not
   to be the answer.

   What bothers me most, is that conditioning of predators (fishfeeding) is
   something  we, as an industry, have worked hard to move away from, not
   withstanding a few well-organized and controlled programs.  Now, all of a
   sudden, in the name of lionfish control, some divers are right back at
   often in an uncontrolled, uncoordinated manner.  It is creating seriously
   unsafe conditions and the interpretations of the tethering results are
   adding fuel to that fire.



   Lad Akins

   Director of Special Projects


   P O Box 370246

   98300 Overseas Hwy

   Key Largo FL 33037

   (305) 852-0030 w

   (305) 942-7333 c

   www.REEF.org <http://www.reef.org/>

   Lad at REEF.org


   From: Steve Mussman [mailto:sealab at earthlink.net]
   Sent: Monday, April 21, 2014 11:10 AM
   To: Lad at reef.org; coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
   Subject: RE: [Coral-List] Natural Predation and Lionfish

   Hi Lad,

   I am familiar with the papers you referenced and I agree that it is
   there is no single factor which can control the lionfish invasion. What
   interesting to me is that the research carried out on the reefs
   Little  Cayman seems to  dispel  the  belief that  grouper  and  other
   predators won't consume live lionfish. That reinforces my perspective
   on anecdotal evidence provided by discussions I've had with a number of
   professional divers throughout the Caribbean region.The researchers were
   suggesting that natural predation was a catch-all solution, but that
   it could be a contributing factor in efforts to control. In fact they
   to suggest that these "natural" lionfish predators might benefit from
   rather intensive training. Feeding on tethered lionfish is not the same
   flushing them out of their hiding spots, but it does prove a point. I
   returned from Bonaire where I found lionfish on every dive. They were a
   more prevalent than predatory grouper. Looks like we need all the help we
   can get to reverse these trends.



More information about the Coral-List mailing list