Speared lionfish patch reefs

balloonfish patch reefsNurse shark patch surveys

bigeye patch reef transect

For the past three seasons the Lionfish Research and Education Program, managed by Dr. Jocelyn Curtis-Quick, has been conducting an array of lab-based behavioral studies.  Projects have assessed everything from interactions between lionfish and Caribbean spiny lobsters to preferential prey consumption by the carnivorous invaders to possible collaborative hunting nature of the fish.  This fall brings a brief hiatus from lab-based work as data analysis and writing shift to the fore.

Field work for the lionfish team, on the other hand, continues.  Another round of quarterly surveys were performed in September on the patch reefs just North of the Cape, an area in which lionfish monitoring has been going on for the past 4 years.  These small and relatively self-contained reefs allow for comparisons between communities with and without lionfish, as the LREP program regularly culls lionfish from specified patches.  September surveys were completed and over the course of the dives 78 lionfish were sighted, ranging in size from 2-28 cm. In addition to common fish a nurse shark, bigeye, and balloonfish were spotted, as well as a small aggregation of masked or glass gobies – two species impossible to differentiate underwater.

Stay tuned for Eleuthera’s first Lionfish Awareness and Jewelry Workshop, a collaboration between CEI and Eleuthera Arts and Cultural Center!