Areas of Focus for Invasive Species Programs

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Invasive Marine Species & Lionfish 

The threat of exotic and invasive species to marine environments has not been widely reported until recently. More than 37 non-native marine fish have been documented in Florida coastal waters, most believed to be released aquarium pets. Invasive lionfish, first sighted in Florida in 1985, are the only one of these species to have become established and are now causing severe problems throughout the western Atlantic, Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico. Learn about the threats invasive marine fish pose to their non-native environments and what is being done to combat one of the most infamous invasive fish species: the lionfish. 

Lionfish Collecting & Handling 

Lionfish are voracious marine fish that are not known to have native reef predators that could help control their invasive populations. With no natural predators, that leaves SCUBA divers and snorkelers to enact regular removals in their invasive habitats. Our Lionfish Collecting & Handling programs will include background on the invasion, lionfish biology, ecological impacts, current research, collecting and handling techniques, and much more. 

Invasive Lionfish vs. Native Reef Predators

Though the invasive lionfish have no natural predators in the Caribbean, there have been signs of interactions between the lionfish and native reef predators. Through volunteer SCUBA diver and snorkeler sightings, as well as findings from research conducted by REEF staff, we have numerous interaction observations that show us the presence of native reef predators that may help us in combatting the lionfish invasion.