Invasive Lionfish in The Bahamas

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

For the past 3 years Dr. Craig Dahlgren of the Perry Institute for Marine Science has been working with the Bahamas National Trust, The Bahamas Department of Marine Resources, College of The Bahamas student volunteers, and SEV consulting, a Bahamian environmental consulting group to study the lionfish invasion of The Bahamas.  Lionfish are native to the Indo-Pacific region, but have been showing up on Bahamian reefs for the past 10-15 years.  Over that time, their numbers have increased dramatically.  This is of particular concern because lionfish are voracious predators and have been shown in some cases to have a strong negative impact on native fish populations. Photo 1:An invasive lionfish in the Berry Islands, Bahamas. Photo credit: Justin Lewis Over the past three years, the research team has collected data on lionfish populations and native fish populations in the Southern Berry islands and the Exuma Cays from mangrove, rocky bottom and coral reef habitats. At some sites, experimental removals of lionfish were conducted to see what it will take to control lionfish populations locally and to determine how lionfish are affecting native fish populations in these habitats. In March, these experiments came to a close and the final surveys of fish were conducted at all sites.  Preliminary results indicate that, while it may not be possible to eradicate lionfish in The Bahamas, their abundance can be reduced at specific sites by conducting removals every three months.  Further analyses are being conducted to see how lionfish affect native fish populations across a range of habitats and to see if native fish populations recover when lionfish are removed from sites on a quarterly basis.  These results will help marine resource managers determine appropriate actions to take to control populations of this invasive predator.