[Coral-List] Lionfish in the news

Szmant, Alina szmanta at uncw.edu
Wed Jan 29 13:23:31 EST 2014

Hi Steve:

Thank you for your comments. I have seen the earlier work, and have voiced a similar opinion in past posts on Coral-List: that humans are always looking for scape goats on which to blame our impacts.  Large fish predators (as well as small versions of the same species) have been scarce on Caribbean reefs at least back to the 1970s (e.g. Munroe papers) long before lionfish started to invade the Caribbean in the early 1990s.  So it is deceitful to claim that if we killed and ate every lionfish in the Caribbean the groupers and snappers would rebound their numbers.  I am not advocating in any way that lionfish be ignored and attempts to control their numbers abandoned, I just hate to see supposedly knowledgeable and well-meaning people deceived by their own cool-aid, because it means that we go on ignoring and doing nothing about the real problem, too many people on Earth!

I strongly recommend a recent collection of essays published by the University of Georgia Press, titled “Life on The Brink”
[http://www.amazon.com/Life-Brink-Environmentalists-Confront-Overpopulation/dp/0820343854].  I am using this book with one of my seminar classes this semester, and am giving copies away to people in government/management level positions hoping that somehow this problem with receive more broad attention than it is getting. As long as our numbers continue to grow (when in fact we need them to somehow decline), wildlife in all environments, not just coral reefs, will be gradually exterminated.


“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
Center for Marine Science and Dept of Biology and Marine Biology
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

From: Steve Mussman [mailto:sealab at earthlink.net]
Sent: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 1:10 PM
To: Szmant, Alina; mtupper; coral list; Douglas Fenner
Subject: RE: [Coral-List] Lionfish in the news


I believe that Mumby et al published a paper not too long ago that addresses some of the issues you raise.


That was followed up by a subsequent study that challenged many of Mumby's assumptions.


So where does that leave us. There is still an ongoing debate as to whether or not natural predation of lionfish ever occurs in their new-found ranges.

I have witnessed several species taking speared lionfish and talked with a few divemasters who claim to have seen examples of true natural predation.

Problem is, large-bodied grouper and snapper were already hard to find on many of the Caribbean reefs by the time the lionfish appeared.

One thing for sure is that it would seem that larger predators on many reefs fell victim to something beyond the vociferous appetite of the menacing lionfish.


-----Original Message-----
>From: "Szmant, Alina"
>Sent: Jan 29, 2014 11:31 AM
>To: mtupper , coral list , Douglas Fenner , Steve Mussman
>Subject: RE: [Coral-List] Lionfish in the news
>Has anyone counted lionfish densities in places such as Hol Chan (MPA with daily patrols to protect against poachers) that have fairly large numbers of groupers, snappers and other larger piscivores? I still wonder whether the lionfish would have been able to invade the Caribbean the way they have if Caribbean reefs had had natural abundances and size structures of these predators.
>"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
>Center for Marine Science and Dept of Biology and Marine Biology
>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
>-----Original Message-----
>From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov<mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of mtupper
>Sent: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 11:50 AM
>To: coral list; Douglas Fenner; Steve Mussman
>Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Lionfish in the news
>Steve and Doug,
>I think that whether or not lionfish removal from small areas could boost grouper and/or snapper recruitment through predation release would depend on a couple of things, such as:
>1. Do the grouper or snapper species in question have specific nursery habitats that are spatially restricted? If yes, then removal of lionfish from those nursery habitats could conceivably reduce predation on the young of year enough to boost recruitment. If no, i.e. the juvenile grouper or snapper are habitat generalists and are spread out over a large area, then removal of lionfish from small reef areas is unlikely to affect predation and subsequent recruitment success.
>2. What is the depth at which grouper and snapper juveniles typically recruit?
>For species like Nassau grouper, red hind, grey snapper, etc., the depths at which young of year recruit are well within diving depths and so lionfish removal from juvenile habitat may be feasible. For other commercially important species such as red or vermilion snapper, the juveniles recruit at depths of 50 m or more, which is too deep for diver removal but certainly within the depth range of lionfish.
>Steve also raises a valid point about snapper and grouper declines. These declines have occurred from decades of fishing pressure and environmental degradation. Some of the hardest-hit populations (e.g. Trinidad) are in areas where lionfish have still not gained a foothold. That of course does not in any way lessen the threat that lionfish currently pose.
>Dr. Mark Tupper
>Coastal Resources Association
>2503-13618 100 Ave, Surrey, BC, Canada V3T 0A8 www.coastal-resources.org<http://www.coastal-resources.org>
>Email: mtupper at coastal-resources.org<mailto:mtupper at coastal-resources.org>
>Tel. 1-778-903-6420
>> On January 27, 2014 at 11:34 AM Steve Mussman wrote:
>> Doug,
>> I believe the article raises more questions than it answers.
>> The most obvious issue may be related to the size of the reef areas
>> involved in the study:
>> "A typical reef site, which is about a third the size of a basketball court"
>> How does a study carried out on such infinitesimal areas of reef apply
>> to the issue as a whole? It is one thing to control lionfish on these
>> small parcels, but how do you apply the same techniques effectively to
>> vast areas of reefs many of which are at depths below which divers can even access?
>> The article also implies that the main reason for grouper and snapper
>> declines is lionfish . . . wonder how they came to that conclusion?
>> Steve
>> -----Original Message-----
>> >From: Douglas Fenner
>> >Sent: Jan 25, 2014 8:33 PM
>> >To: coral list
>> >Subject: [Coral-List] Lionfish in the news
>> >
>> >Title: "Invasive Lionfish, the Kings of the Caribbean, may have met
>> >their match." (put the emphasis on "may have") I noted the statement
>> >at the end of the article that invasive species now cost the U.S.A.
>> >$120 billion dollars a year. That's "billion" with a "B." (many or
>> >most of the species that add to that cost are terrestrial or fresh
>> >water)
>> >
>> >http://news.yahoo.com/invasive-lionfish-kings-caribbean-may-met-match
>> >-01160
>> 0208.html
>> >
>> >Older stories:
>> >
>> >"Caribbean's native predators unable to stop aggressive lionfish
>> >population growth"
>> >
>> >http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130711172538.htm
>> >
>> >The IndoPacific Lionfish Invasion (tons of info)
>> >
>> >http://www.coris.noaa.gov/exchanges/lionfish/
>> >
>> >REEF lionfish research program
>> >Be sure to check the expansion of the lionfish in the map on this
>> >page, the expansion clearly continues, now covers the entire US
>> >eastern seaboard, Bermuda, Caribbean to the eastern end, and Gulf of
>> >Mexico. It takes a minute to load, but it continues to 2013.
>> >
>> >http://www.reef.org/lionfish
>> >
>> >--
>> >Douglas Fenner
>> >Contractor with Ocean Associates, Inc.
>> >PO Box 7390
>> >Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799 USA
>> >
>> >phone 1 684 622-7084
>> >_______________________________________________
>> >Coral-List mailing list
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