Details of this species in Bermuda
Source: Albins & Hixon 2008; USGS 2009; Schofield 2009
Arrival Date: 2000
Species Notes for this Location:
Red lionfish have now been sighted as far east as Bermuda (Whitfield et al. 2002, Hare & Whitfield 2003, Whitfield et al. 2007, in Albins & Hixon 2008). The first lionfish recorded from Bermuda was a
juvenile taken from a tide pool on the southern shore of the island in 2000 (Whitfield et al. 2002, in Schofield 2009). It appears the species persisted at low levels for several years, as only a few lionfish were seen each year between 2001 and 2003. By 2004, lionfish were numerous in Bermuda. Although lionfish continue to be seen regularly in Bermuda, their annual densities seem to vary greatly. It is unclear whether lionfish can overwinter in Bermuda, and thus unclear whether the population is established (i.e., a self-supporting reproductive population) or transient (driven by recruitment via the Gulf Stream) (Schofield 2009). They are believed to spawn in summer in Bermuda and not in winter, however, more information is needed to confirm this.
Management Notes for this Location:
The current geographic range and rapid population growth of the lionfish in the Atlantic makes complete eradication of this species untenable; nonetheless, it would be prudent for impacted nations to initiate targeted lionfish control (Albins & Hixon 2008). Sustained effort to reduce lionfish densities at key locations, including vulnerable and valuable reef areas, may help to mitigate their ecological impact (Hare & Whitfield 2003, in Albins & Hixon 2008). Recovering healthy populations of potential native predators of lionfish, such as large grouper and sharks, may also help to reduce the effects of these invasive predators (Albins & Hixon 2008), however, some controversy does exist in terms of their status as lionfish predators (please see this informative video of the Bermuda culling program featuring an interview with Chris Flook (Bermuda Aquarium Museum & Zoo) on YouTube).
Physical: Spear fishing has been tried but the most effective way is to use two nets in a kind of pincer movement, drawing the fish into one of them; then the fish are transferred into a dry bag by carefully grabbing the body using spine resistant gloves (Adam-Whitmore 2009). In order to control and manage the lionfish invasion, culling programs have been introduced in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the Bahamas (4th UK CBD Report 2009; Adam-Whitmore 2009). Bermuda initiated a lionfish culling program in 2008 that included a training program, collecting license, and a special dive flag allowing commercial and recreational fishers to spear lionfish along reefs (Morris et al. 2008). For more information on applying to the Government for a licence please call 293-2727 ext. 127.
An informative video of this program featuring an interview with Chris Flook (Bermuda Aquarium Museum & Zoo) can be viewed on YouTube. Please call a Marine Conservation Officer on 293-4464 extension 146 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to report lionfish sightings. Please leave your name and contact number so you can be contacted for further information.
Competition: The large reduction in the recruitment of fishes resulting from lionfish predation suggests that the lionfish may compete with native piscivores by monopolising this important food resource (Albins & Hixon 2008).
Ecosystem change: Invasive lionfish are already having substantial negative impacts on Atlantic coral reefs (Albins & Hixon 2008). By decreasing the recruitment of fishes, lionfish have the potential to decrease the abundance of ecologically important species, such as parrotfishes and other herbivorous reef fishes, which are crucial for preventing seaweeds from overgrowing corals (Williams & Polunin 2001, Mumby et al. 2006, in Albins & Hixon 2008).
Predation: The lionfish represents a potential major threat to coral-reef ecosystems in the Caribbean region by decreasing survival of a wide range of native reef animals via both predation and competition (Albins & Hixon 2008). Considering the sizes of lionfish currently found in the Atlantic (up to 45 cm TL, Whitfield et al. 2007, in Albins & Hixon 2008), and the size of prey fish found in stomach contents, the effects of lionfish predation on adult fish is also likely to represent a significant impact of this invasive species on native communities (Albins & Hixon 2008).
Last Modified: 15/02/2010 1:10:22 p.m.