[Coral-List] Lionfish in the news

Douglas Fenner douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
Sun Feb 2 04:18:18 EST 2014

If you look at the REEF website that I gave the URL for in my message, and
watch the map loop, you will see that they now have records in most of the
windward islands for lionfish, and they extend right to Trinidad.  They
arrived in the Windwards in just the last year, if I remember.  If you
watch their spread from south Florida, it makes sense, they expand first up
the US east coast and get to Bermuda, the Gulf Stream moves in those
directions so likely carried them.  Then they make it to the Bahamas, which
could be a bit surprising since the Florida Current is moving rapidly
between Florida and the Bahamas.  But the Florida Current isn't at all
depths, maybe eggs or larvae got transported to the Bahamas in water below
the Florida Current.  Fact is, they did get to the Bahamas, even if we
don't know how, it happened.  It's a fact.  They spread through most of the
Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and indeed the Windwards are the last islands
they made it to.  Unless someone has hard evidence that those reports are
incorrect, it is a fact we have to deal with.  We may not know how, but it
happened.  However the currents work, as I understand it the Diadema
urchins died in the windward islands just as they did in the rest of the
Caribbean and Bahamas and Florida.  Unless I'm wrong and the windwards were
spared, the disease killed many Diadema in the windwards as they did
elsewhere.  I don't know how the disease got there, I'm not an
oceanographer.  But if the got there, there has to be a mechanism, and just
because it doesn't seem like they could, doesn't mean they didn't actually
get there.  Just means we don't know how.  (though someone else may well
have figured it out.)
     You say that "Also, the Caribbean-wide demise of Acroporids (including
the Windward Islands) occurred during the same year (1983)."  I assume by
"demise" you don't mean they went extinct, though you aren't being very
specific.  So you say their demise happened in 1983, whatever "demise"
means in this context.  I thought that they had a gradual decline over much
more than one year, maybe a decade or more.  But you say it happened in
1983.  Is there hard evidence that their "demise" happened in 1983 only and
didn't take longer?  Anybody have info on that?
       Cheers,  Doug

On Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 9:04 AM, Eugene Shinn <eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>wrote:

>    It was interesting reading through the most recent postings on
> Lionfish. In one of the websites I noted (in the 2009 USGS map of
> lionfish sightings) that they had not yet reached the Windward Islands
> or at least had not been observed  there yet. However, a more recent map
> someone working on Lionfish showed me indicates that they are now in the
> Windward Island but have not yet made the jump to the southern end of
> the island chain. Nevertheless, considering how long they have been in
> the Caribbean they should have reached those islands long before 2009.
> If they really were not in the the windwards islands by 2009 there was a
> good reason why. They, or their eggs and larvae, would have to swim
> against a strong East to West current. But that's no problem.  Many
> researchers had no problem accepting the hypothesis that what ever
> decimated Diadema in 1983 started around the Panama Canal were not
> stopped by the current and in less than a year had reached the Windward
> Islands. Also, the Caribbean-wide demise of Acroporids (including the
> Windward Islands) occurred during the same year (1983). Humm. Again it
> is possible that Lionfish did make it to the Windward Islands long
> before 2009 but just had not been observed yet. It would be interesting
> to know when they actually did reach the islands. Clearly the pathogen
> that caused Diadema and Acroporid demise made the trip. I wonder if it
> could be that the Diadema and Acropora pathogen, along with the soil
> fungi that caused the sea fan disease, just dropped out of the the
> prevailing trade winds in 1983? Something to ponder.
> Nevertheless I suspect  we will be discussing Lionfish immigration for
> as long as congress discusses immigration reform.
> Hopefully they will just die off from natural causes, the lionfish that
> is.  Gene
> --
> No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
> ------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
> E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
> University of South Florida
> College of Marine Science Room 221A
> 140 Seventh Avenue South
> St. Petersburg, FL 33701
> <eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>
> Tel 727 553-1158
> ---------------------------------- -----------------------------------
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Douglas Fenner
Contractor with Ocean Associates, Inc.
PO Box 7390
Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799  USA

phone 1 684 622-7084

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