lionfish ninja 2

Are Lionfish Invisible to Prey?

Lionfish have been called the “Pirates of the Caribbean,” but “Ninjas of the Caribbean” might be a better nickname.

Lionfish are predatory fish, native to the Indian and Pacific regions, that have invaded the Atlantic and Caribbean.  One of the main problems with invasive lionfish is that they are eating so many native reef fish.

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Are lionfish such successful predators because they are invisible to prey?

A recent study published in PlosOne by O.M. Lonnstedt and M. I. McCormick (2013) investigated this very question.

Set-Up

Fish use both chemical and visual cues to sense their surroundings, similar to the way we use sight and smell. An important way fish use these cues is to identify a threat (like a predator) so that they can respond appropriately (hide, swim away, etc). Researchers wanted to see if prey fish responded differently to the chemical and visual cues of two common predators, compared to their responses to lionfish. They also tested if fish could “learn” to identify threats.

The prey fish were juveniles of a type of damselfish called the blue green chromis (Chromis viridis). When a damselfish is injured, a chemical is released that signals to other damselfish to display “anti-predator behaviors” such as reducing their activity or finding shelter. In this study, there were four groups of prey. Three groups were “taught” that each of the three predators (one group per predator) are threats by being exposed to the cues from the predators (visual and chemical) combined with the alarm-signaling chemical. These groups are referred to as the “experienced” prey. The remaining group was “inexperienced” and was not taught to identify any of the three predators as a threat.

The three predators used in the study were :

  • the freckled hind, a common predator in the Indo-Pacific
  • the zebra lionfish, a relative of the lionfish
  • the lionfish, specifically P. volitans that has invaded the Caribbean.

Researchers observed how the prey (both experienced and inexperienced) behaved towards these three different predators, and also if the prey survived the encounter.

UNder the C

Or in other words, do lionfish have ninja skills?

lionfish ninja1Lionfish have been called the “Pirates of the Caribbean,” but “Ninjas of the Caribbean” might be a better nickname.

Lionfish are predatory fish, native to the Indian and Pacific regions, that have invaded the Atlantic and Caribbean. See our previous posts about lionfish (Photo FridayMarine Monster Mash, The Great Debate: Predators vs Lionfish, and Who’s ‘Lyin” about Lionfish?) for more information about the invasion and the negative impacts of lionfish. One of the main problems with invasive lionfish is that they are eating so many native reef fish.

Are lionfish such successful predators because they are invisible to prey?

A recent study published in PlosOne by O.M. Lonnstedt and M. I. McCormick (2013) investigated this very question.

Set-Up

Fish use both chemical and visual cues to sense their surroundings, similar to the way we use…

View original post 691 more words

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Montego Bay, Jamaica: Lionfish Seafood Nights

Seasonedlionfish20140317ConIn a bid to curtail the reproduction of lionfish in Montego Bay’s Coastal zones, the Montego Bay Marine Park Trust (MBMPT) has launched an initiative dubbed ‘Seafood Nights’ in collaboration with The Pork Pit eatery located on Gloucester Avenue. According to MBMPT Out-reach Officer Joshua Bailey, the weekly promotional project is sponsored by the Global Environment Fund’s Small Grants programme and is being promoted to encourage a local demand for the lionfish. During the first event, staged last week Thursday, several Lionfish dishes were offered at reduced prices. MBMPT will continue to stage the event every Thursday between the hours of 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. “The findings of the Lionfish Monitoring Project implemented by the MBMPT and the University of the West Indies (UWI) Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory suggest that the best way to attempt to mitigate the negative effects that this invasion causes is to encourage a public demand for the fish. The Seafood Nights initiative is a magnificent opportunity for us to introduce the Lionfish to the public and encourage the regular consumption of this type of fish,” Bailey said. He said Seafood Nights features an educational display area where patrons are able to learn about the Lionfish, witness live dissections, and view live specimens, while enjoying live entertainment.

Repeating Islands

Seasonedlionfish20140317ConIn a bid to curtail the reproduction of lionfish in Montego Bay’s Coastal zones, the Montego Bay Marine Park Trust (MBMPT) has launched an initiative dubbed ‘Seafood Nights’ in collaboration with The Pork Pit eatery located on Gloucester Avenue.

According to MBMPT Out-reach Officer Joshua Bailey, the weekly promotional project is sponsored by the Global Environment Fund’s Small Grants programme and is being promoted to encourage a local demand for the lionfish. During the first event, staged last week Thursday, several Lionfish dishes were offered at reduced prices. MBMPT will continue to stage the event every Thursday between the hours of 5 p.m. and 10 p.m.

“The findings of the Lionfish Monitoring Project implemented by the MBMPT and the University of the West Indies (UWI) Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory suggest that the best way to attempt to mitigate the negative effects that this invasion causes is to encourage a public…

View original post 245 more words

In St. Maarten, Online Application Launched to Monitor Lionfish

St. Maarten’s Nature Foundation urges all ocean users and the community in general to start recording their sighting of the dangerous and invasive lionfish online at www.lionfishcontrol.org. This is a means of monitoring and controlling this species.

A new web-based and mobile-device-friendly application developed by Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance has recently been updated and expanded to St. Maarten after piloting on Bonaire where over 10,000 records have been entered in an effort to improve control of lionfish.

Lionfish hunters and ocean-going public can record their observations and lionfish captures in an easy-to-understand and informative way. In combination with additional research, the information provided by these “citizen scientists” gives unprecedented insight into lionfish distribution and success of removal efforts.

Since the early 1990s, the rapid spread of the invasive lionfish has been an increasing problem for the Caribbean region, as the exotic and voracious predator eats its way through native fish communities. On a number of Caribbean islands, lionfish control programmes were set in motion, often with a volunteer (fishing) component.

For the last years, Nature Foundation has been systematically researching and controlling the lionfish population on St. Maarten. Research has shown that through the efforts of the sea-going community the Nature Foundation was able to implement successful control measures limiting the impact of lionfish in the territorial waters of St. Maarten.

Recently sharks have also been playing a large role in the control of the species. Through efforts spearheaded by Nature Foundation, sharks are protected on St. Maarten and have now started to prey on the invasive lionfish.

Read more at Repeating Islands...

Repeating Islands

lion.Pterois_volitans_Manado-e_edit

St. Maarten’s Nature Foundation urges all ocean users and the community in general to start recording their sighting of the dangerous and invasive lionfish online at www.lionfishcontrol.org. This is a means of monitoring and controlling this species.

A new web-based and mobile-device-friendly application developed by Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance has recently been updated and expanded to St. Maarten after piloting on Bonaire where over 10,000 records have been entered in an effort to improve control of lionfish.

Lionfish hunters and ocean-going public can record their observations and lionfish captures in an easy-to-understand and informative way. In combination with additional research, the information provided by these “citizen scientists” gives unprecedented insight into lionfish distribution and success of removal efforts.

Since the early 1990s, the rapid spread of the invasive lionfish has been an increasing problem for the Caribbean region, as the exotic and voracious predator eats its way through native fish…

View original post 113 more words