Authors

Jasmine Baloch

Document Type

Internship Report

Publication Date

Spring 2015

Abstract

Since the 1980s, the introduction of the Indo-Pacific lionfishes, Pterois miles and P. volitans, into the Atlantic Ocean has resulted in a rapid population growth. Their rapid establishment and potential adverse effects on reef ecosystems is of great concern as they pose a serious threat to reef communities. The purpose of this project was to aide in the removal and research of Indo-Pacific lionfishes in the Dry Tortugas National Park waters. To sustain the removal of lionfish in the park, timed surveys were conducted at random sites via Scuba diving or snorkel during the months of June through October 2014. For 2014, the dive team performed 174 surveys in 64.2 hours and a total of 79 lionfish were removed and 102 observed. The calculated CPUE was 2.03, higher than the previous year (2013) CPUE of 1.37. The CPUE for each survey was compared and revealed that the CPUE for high relief habitat is significantly different from all other habitats. The number of lionfish for shallow depth is significantly different from deep depths and the size of lionfish also increases with depth. These results indicate that the number of lionfish and the effort is greater in depths below 40 feet and high profile habitats. From 2011 to 2014 the majority of lionfish were observed in high relief coral habitat for all years. The most frequent lionfish length was 25-30 cm for all but the first survey year in 2010. The recorded behavior of lionfish shifted from mostly resting to hiding from 2013 to 2014. This suggests that predation on lionfish may occur within the park and be altering their behavior. The hotspots of lionfish per site from 2011 to 2014 fluctuated from 4 to 21 lionfish per survey site and shifted from the outer to inner boundaries of the park.

The importance of this study was to verify whether the current management effort of lionfish is effective. This study helps to identify trends in lionfish population and provide a baseline of lionfish abundance and expansion for the Dry Tortugas National Park to aide in future management efforts.

Comments

Department: MBF

MPS Track: TME

Location: National Park Service, Dry Tortugas National Park, GoPro, Inc.

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