The role of volunteer divers in lionfish research and control in the Caribbean

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The role of volunteer divers in lionfish research and control in the Caribbean

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Title: The role of volunteer divers in lionfish research and control in the Caribbean
Author: Ali, F; Collins, K; Peachey, R
Abstract: The Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans) is a venomous, voracious predator that is currently causing ecological and economical harm throughout the Caribbean. Their generalist diet and habitat preference coupled with their rapid growth rate and lack of natural predators has allowed their population to explode throughout the Caribbean. As a means to control lionfish populations, countries have designed lionfish removal programs which, in some instances, depend primarily on volunteer divers. Activities such as lionfish tournaments or specified lionfish removal trips and events are another platform whereby volunteer divers help to remove substantial quantities of lionfish. These removal events are important for lionfish control, and they contribute greatly to research. In Bonaire, since October 2009, almost 5,000 lionfish have been submitted to CIEE Research Station Bonaire by volunteer divers for research on lionfish morphometrics, sexual maturity and feeding ecology. This submission of specimens has contributed to one of the most in-depth and long-term studies of lionfish feeding ecology in the Caribbean. Staff from CIEE have also attended lionfish hunting tournaments in Curaçao to collect data on lionfish ecology and make comparisons. During the first tournament in 2012, 317 fish of the 1,069 caught were analysed, whereas in 2013, 1,500 fish out of 2,403 caught were dissected. Thus, within two days an extensive sample size was attained from various depths throughout various locations in Curaçao, an achievement that would have taken a small group of researchers many weeks or even months. Thus, volunteer divers have the ability to play an instrumental role in lionfish research and control and should be implemented into further lionfish management strategies throughout the Caribbean.
Description: American Academy of Underwater Sciences (http://www.aaus.org/)
URI: http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/10403
Date: 2013

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