NOAA divers capture invasive lionfish in the Virgin Islands National Park

Aug 06, 2010

Divers identified and killed a 15 cm long lionfish in Fish Bay along the southern coast of St. John, making this the fourth such capture and kill of the invasive fish in the Virgin Islands National Park.

The was first spotted July 15, 2010 and captured the following day within 10 meters of the original sighting. A team of divers and scientists from NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and the National Park Service were in the area collecting data aimed at evaluating the health of corals, fish and invertebrates in a ten-year long project funded by NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program. This is the first time during the annual surveys the research team has sighted a lionfish. Governments across the Caribbean are concerned by the potential environmental impact of this species, which is multiplying rapidly across the region and consuming native fish at unsustainable rates in some locations.

"Lionfish pose a huge threat to the of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The native fish populations are essentially defenseless in the face of this threat. And once established, lionfish are very difficult to control," noted Rafe Boulon, Chief of Resource Management for the Virgin Islands National Park and the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument.

Native to the Indo-Pacific, Lionfish were first spotted in the US off the coast of St. Croix in 2008. NOAA scientists with the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science were the first to identify their first appearance in North Carolina and have been leading research and monitoring efforts since then. They have been in close collaboration with the Reef Environmental Education Foundation, scientists from Simon Fraser University, and the US Geological Survey to undertake critical research on lionfish biology, ecology, and environmental impacts.

In addition, NOAA is studying lionfish control strategies and has launched an "Eat Lionfish" campaign, which works with chefs, fishermen, and wholesalers to promote the development of a market for these . NOAA scientists have determined that a major fishing effort is required to reduce their numbers and mitigate their impact on reef ecosystems.

Explore further: Leave that iguana in the jungle, expert tells Costa Rica

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Lionfish threaten Long Island waters

Sep 08, 2006

Scientists are investigating how a flamboyant tropical fish native to the Pacific Ocean is surviving in the chilly waters off New York's Long Island.

Lionfish invasion continuing to expand

Apr 19, 2010

Their numbers continue to expand. They are spreading throughout the Caribbean Sea. Eradication appears almost impossible. Even limited amounts of control will be extremely difficult, and right now the best ...

Voracious lionfish wreaks havoc in Florida Keys

Feb 11, 2010

At French Reef, 30 feet below the ocean's surface, Sea Dwellers dive instructor Dave Jefferiss was on a mission to find and capture one of the gorgeous but dreaded new invaders of the Florida Keys: a lionfish.

Alien lionfish swarm N.C. coast

Apr 23, 2009

A handful of ravenous, venomous lionfish, a species native to the western Pacific, were spotted off North Carolina in 2000. Turns out they like it here. A lot.

Recommended for you

Team defines new biodiversity metric

Aug 29, 2014

To understand how the repeated climatic shifts over the last 120,000 years may have influenced today's patterns of genetic diversity, a team of researchers led by City College of New York biologist Dr. Ana ...

Changes in farming and climate hurting British moths

Aug 29, 2014

Britain's moths are feeling the pinch – threatened on one side by climate change and on the other by habitat loss and harmful farming methods. A new study gives the most comprehensive picture yet of trends ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

tkjtkj
not rated yet Aug 07, 2010
Rule #1: Don't f with Mother Nature!
Liofish numbers are as dependent on food supply as is any other life-form. If they devastate prey, they themselves will be devastated. And just how does one 'fish for lionfish without harming other species'?? This sounds more like a 'diver tour industry campaign' to me rather than any adventure of scientific import!