Guest Blogger: Trina Hazell “Why we are catching lionfish with ReefCI!”
December 4, 2013
The Lionfish are not indigenous to the Caribbean sea. They are new to the sea and have no predators. As a consequence they are able to roam the reefs of the sea, effectively eating their way through the juvenile fish stocks of the reef and as a consequence the reefs become unhealthy as they cannot progress their normal detoxification and living cycles, without a balanced population of fish and associated life.
So when the Reef CI team are out there catching Lionfish they return to base and do a dissection survey, record the results and provide the data to marine biologists so allowing work to continue to try to track the status of Lionfish populations and see if there is someway in which work can be done to restrict the population explosion.
Nothing is wasted in the dissection survey.
The meat is taken as fillets for selling to local traders to sell in the local restaurants in PG.
The venomous spines are culled and once dried and baked so making them safe they are taken to a local women’s craft co-operative who are working out how to make jewellery using the spines.
The aim is to try to derive a value chain for the fish and so prompt local fishing market and value chain in an effort to reduce the effect of the fish on the reef or the indigenous species will collapse.
Ruby, Tracy, and Abby Preparing our Dissection Survey “production line”
Ruby took down the results, Tracy dissected, and Abby photographed each of our fishy subjects.
Me measuring the Lionfish nose to end of tail, and body length
Tracy dissecting as chief biologist and this was to determine the gender
Tracy was able to determine that this Lionfish was female, albeit not mature enough to have fully developed egg sacks.
One of two fully developed egg sacks in a female lionfish (up to 10,000 eggs per release)
Stomach Contents were predominantly juvenile fish and in this case crabs
Libby cutting the tail and dorsal fin spines for use in local jewellery craft manufacture
All in all 20 fish out of the 24 fish haul were surveyed and the results tabulated and recorded in a master spread sheet for use by local fishery scientists.