A new paper was recently published in the scientific journal, BioInvasions Records, that provides an updated look at non-native marine fishes that have been reported from Florida waters through REEF's Non-Native Species Reporting Program and other sources. The paper also provides information on Early-detection/Rapid-response (ED/RR) efforts. In addition to the well-known invasion of non-native lionfish (Pterois volitans and P. miles), there are now 39 other non-native marine fishes that have been documented in Florida. These reports have mostly come in from REEF's Non-Native Species Reporting Program (www.REEF.org/report-exotic-or-invasive-sighting), which are then input to the US Geological Survey (USGS)’s Nonindigenous Aquatic Species database (USGS-NAS). In addition to lionfish, there is one other Indo-Pacific species, the Regal Demoiselle (Neopomacentrus cyanomos), that is currently establishing populations in the Gulf of Mexico, along with two other species that have expanded their natural range in the region (Fairy Basslet, Gramma loreto, and Tessellated Blenny, Hypsoblennius invemar). The rest of the species have not yet established populations.
In 1999, REEF established an ED/RR program to mobilize efforts to locate and remove reported non-native species from Florida waters. In collaboration with the USGS and public aquarium institutions (originally the National Aquarium and more recently the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science), REEF has coordinated the removal of 13 individuals of nine species from Florida's coastal waters (see list below). An additional four species have been removed by other institutions, and there have been a few unsuccessful removal attempts. Many of the captured fishes were transferred to public aquaria where they were displayed to provide educational information to the public.
This study follows up on two previous papers published on REEF's Non-native Species Sightings Program (Semmens et al 2004 and Schofield et al 2009). As discussed in Semmens et al (2004), the origin of most non-native fish species sighted in Florida is intentional release by well-meaning home aquarium owners. REEF works with partners, including the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America (MASNA), to conduct outreach with the public on alternatives for responsible disposal of unwanted fishes.
Visit www.REEF.org/db/publications to access the full paper, along with the other 65+ scientific publications that have included REEF's programs and data.
Successful Non-native Fish Removals From Florida Coastal Waters Coordinated by REEF's ED/RR Program
Orbicular Batfish, Platax orbicularis (n = 5)
Humbug Damselfish, Dascyllus aruanus
Chocolate Surgeonfish, Acanthurus pyroferus
Onespot Rabbitfish, Siganus unimaculatus
Spiny Chromis, Acanthochromis polyacanthus
Orangespine Unicornfish, Naso lituratus
Lagoon Triggerfish, Rhinecanthus aculeatus
Yellow Tang, Zebrasoma flavescens
Purple (yellow-tail) Tang, Zebrasoma xanthurum