Divers and lionfish hunters can now view and report lionfish sightings and removals in real-time throughout the invaded region.
By Amy Lee, REEF Trips Program and Communications Manager
Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) is pleased to announce the official release of “REEF Lionfish Sightings,” a map-based app that will allow users to view and report lionfish sightings and removals throughout the Eastern United States, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Based on Australia’s Wild About Whales sighting program and modified by REEF volunteer Jason Nocks, the REEF Lionfish Sightings app is free of charge for the iPhone and Android. The app contains a user-friendly reporting page, allowing submission of sighting information including the date, time, and GPS location of sighting, habitat type and number of lionfish both seen and collected. Lionfish hunters may view lionfish sightings on the map and report their catch.
Data on lionfish sightings and removals remain active on the app for 30 days, and are then archived for research and management purposes. The REEF Lionfish Sightings app also includes educational information on lionfish, safe handling guidelines and first aid procedures. “We are very excited to have the REEF Lionfish Sightings app as the latest tool to address the lionfish invasion. It will provide essential information to track sightings and direct removal efforts.” said Emily Stokes, REEF’s Invasive Species Specialist. “Knowing where lionfish are being sighted and directing removal efforts to those locations is a key element in effective control.”
Lionfish, native to the Indo-Pacific, are an invasive species in the Tropical Western Atlantic and are causing startlingly adverse impacts to native marine life and ecosystems throughout the region. According to Dr. Stephanie Green, Oregon State University researcher, some sites in the Bahamas have seen 65-95% declines in native fish due to lionfish predation, over a two-year period. Lionfish consume large numbers of native prey including commercially valuable fish species, such as grouper and snapper, which could have detrimental long-term effects on the economies and ecologies of countries in the invaded range. However, regular lionfish removals are showing promise in reducing local lionfish populations and sizes.
For more information about REEF’s Invasive Lionfish Program and to learn how you can become involved, visit www.REEF.org/lionfish.
Primary Contact: Emily Stokes, Emily@REEF.org
REEF Lionfish Program Assistant, (305) 852-0030
Secondary Contact: Lad Akins, Lad@REEF.org