Saturday, June 25, 2011

Another Lionfish Hunt

After a two year Hiatus, we are again going to the Bahamas in search of Lionfish.  This is Hawaiian slingshot and spear type of hunt, with all tools provided, including bags.  My son and I had a great time two years ago.  The folks at Stuart Cove are great.  We will be treated very well by the staff, by the end of the weekend, they will become your friends.  Here is the LINK to the information on the hunt.  Hope to see you there.

Friday, November 13, 2009

More Lionfish Hunting Shots

Tohru, our most excellent Captain & Dive Master from Stuart Cove, here shown with his haul from our hunt.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Eels eating Lionfish

As I've mentioned before, during our lionfish hunt, with Stuart Cove we spent some time feeding Lionfish to spotted moray & green eels.  This was amazing to see, because some of the Lionfish that now live in the waters near Nassau are getting large.  The average size was over 12 inches, with one caught at 18 inches.  The eel in the shots here were considerably smaller than the Lionfish, and he took his time trying to figure out how to get the fish into his mouth and into the hole he called home. These fish were feed to the eels, they did not hunt them.  Although not probable, it is thought that possibly the eels could find a taste for thse fish and actually hunt them on their own.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Experiments show Lionfish are a danger in the Bahamas

"PhD student Mark Albins of Hixon’s team devised a controlled experiment testing the effects of lionfish on native fish communities by documenting the recruitment of newly settled reef fishes on 20 patch reefs near LSI: 10 reefs with a lionfish and 10 reefs without. Fish censuses were conducted at one week intervals for five weeks. Recruitment was significantly lower on lionfish reefs than on control reefs at the end of the experiment. On one occasion, a lionfish was observed consuming 20 small wrasses during a 30 minute period.

It was not unusual to observe lionfish consuming prey up to 2/3 of its own length. Results of the experiment show that lionfish significantly reduce the net recruitment of coral reef fishes by an estimated 80%. The huge reduction in recruitment is due to predation and may eventually result in substantial, negative ecosystem-wide consequences. It is also important to note that lionfish have the potential to act synergistically with other existing stressors, such as climate change, overfishing, and pollution, making this invasion of particular concern for the future of Atlantic coral reefs."

I've seen them with my own eyes, although very beautiful, I have come to know that they are dangerous.  Based on the above, the whole article can be seen here  Spearing them is easy, and Stuart Cove's has some very good instructors & masters who are very proficient with these weapons and can teach you very easily.  I would recommend a great weekend of sunning & diving in the Bahamas, and doing something for the environment by getting rid of these fish.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lionfish Hunting near Nassau

Last weekend my son, AJ, & I went to the Bahamas with Atlanta Scuba to go on a lionfish hunt.  If you have been following my newly created blog, you have already found out that Lionfish are beautiful and dangerous, but are also not native to the Caribbean & Atlantic reef system, and are a problem for the ecosystem.  Because of this potential problem, The Bahamas has made it legal to spear these fish, so off we went.

We went out with the Stuart Cove dive operation for 10 dives over the long weekend, and had a great time hunting for lionfish on several of those dives.  We speared and brought home mopre than 110 fish, and also fed at least 3 to eels and sharks.

photo courtesy of FIn Photo - Stuart Cove

Friday, November 6, 2009

So what is a Lionfish?

A Lionfish is a saltwater fish that is native to the South Pacific and Indian Oceans.  It is a distinctly colored fish with reddish brown or brown stripes, and fleshy tentacles near its face.  they have a series of spines on the dorsal, pelvic and anal fins.  These are the spines that are poisonous.  Although not fatal, the poison can be very painful for several hours to several days.  They have few predators in their native waters, and fewer still in the Atlantic Ocean.

I have seen Caribbean Reef Sharks, Green Eels, and spotted Moray eels eat Lionfish, but only if fed to them.  But more about that at another time.

I found a particularly interesting paragraph regarding these invaders at the NOAA site. NOAA

"Lionfish also are believed to pose particular risks to the local environment. They are hungry predators that feed on practically anything that swims. They can easily devour the young of important commercial fish species, such as snapper, grouper and sea bass, many of which use the region's "live bottom" reefs as nursery grounds. Lionfish are ambush predators and may use their outstretched, fan-like pectoral fins to "corner" their prey. They don't sting their prey, though. Their venomous spines are used mostly for defense. Scientists are concerned that lionfish could seriously reduce the numbers of prey species and/or compete with other reef predators. When a new species is introduced in an area, it can take over the niche, or role, of a native species in its ecosystem, thus squeezing it out--this process is called competition. Another important factor is that native prey species lack of experience in confronting the intimidating lionfish might make the lionfish a more effective predator."

Because the lIonfish has not grown up in the Atlantic reef habitat, the other fish don't know the lionfish, and don't know how to handle them.  Part of the reason the eels and sharks were given the lionfish to eat is that it is hoped that they will learn to like the taste of the fish, and eventually will hunt them.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lionfish - Alien Invader of the Atlantic Reef

NOAA describes the Lionfish who have been seen in the waters of the Atlantic & Caribbean as an "invasive species" or " alien invader". 

Invasive Species—a species that has been transported by natural processes or human activities, either intentionally or accidentally, into a region where it did not occur previously, and reproduces and spreads rapidly into new locations, causing economic or environmental harm or harm to human health (from Executive Order 13112 on Invasive Species).

Alien Species—any species, including its seeds, eggs, spores, or other biological material capable of propagating that species that is not native to that ecosystem (from Executive Order 13112 on Invasive Species). Also called an exotic species, non-native species, non-indigenous species or introduced species.

These little invaders have been found everywhere from New York down to the Bahamas.  Other invasive aquatic species include the European green crab, Asian eel and zebra mussel.  Although these are also termed invaders, they have not begun to degrade the ecosystem as the Lionfish has.  My next post will wade into the aquatic ecosystem to find out what experts are saying about the effects this invader is and could have.