YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!
The Indo Pacific Lionfish Pterois volitans/miles is a
predatory, venomous fish which has been introduced as an invasive
species in the Atlantic Basin. The exotic looking fish is known for its
reddish brown and white banding patters that run vertically along its
body and the 13 venomous spines that run along the length of the fish.
This invasive carnivore can significantly reduce biodiversity of a
local habitat and can drive important fish species to extinction,
negatively affecting coral reef ecosystems. The fish also poses a risk
to the health of the Bonaire National Marine Park users as the species
possesses venomous dorsal, anal, and pelvic spines that can inflict a
painful sting that may result in serious health complications.
HOW DID THEY GET INTO THE ATLANTIC BASIN
The first lionfish was recorded off of the coast of West Palm Beach in
1992 and was possibly released through the aquarium trade (USGS 2002).
Since then the species has continuously migrated north reaching as far
north as Long Island, New York and as far east as Bermuda (USGS 2002).
Lionfish have also been reported in the Bahamas and south along the
Caribbean coasts of Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, Venezuela, and
Colombia (USGS 2002). See http://nas.er.usgs.gov/taxgroup/fish/Lionfishanimation.gif
for progression map.
THE FIRST LIONFISH ON BONAIRE
The Bonaire National Marine Park received the first positive
report on October 26, 2009 and immediately activated a previously
prepared comunication and action plan to remove as many lionfish as
possible. The critical point of this removal action is the accurate
marking and reporting to the Park Management in order to activate the
“removal team”. Due to its territorial behavior, relocation of a
lionfish after a marker is placed is highly probable.
HOW CAN YOU HELP
A simple and effective marker is distributed to all divers. The marker
consists of a 4 to 5’ by 1 inch surveyor tape.
We need your help to control this invasion.
*Ask your dive operator for the marker or call us, our phone
number is on your tag. *Do not try to catch it if you don’t have the right training
and gear. Unsuccessful attempts to catch a lionfish only make further
attempts more difficult.
*If you see a lionfish, please gently tie the marker
immediately above of the lionfish in the same coral colony (sponge or
rock) as close as you can.
*It may help us if the surveyor tape can float straight up.
You can make it float by attaching a wine bottle cork (or similar
floatation device) to it. Be sure that the tape is deployed in a
visible way for the removal team to locate it.
*Report dive site, depth and distance from the entry or buoy
to the Bonaire National Marine Park or to your Dive Operator as soon
*Replace your marking tape.
The collection of the lionfish and recovery of your mark might
take some hours.
Most important, be extremely careful. Most of
the spines are venomous and can cause extreme pain! If stung during
diving, abort the dive immediately. Immerse wound in hot water and seek
medical attention as soon as possible.