Volume 72

A Deep Dive into Lionfish

Candelmo, A; M. Mussey; J.A. Keller; J. Butler; J.C. Olson; A. Acosta
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Date: November, 2019

Pages: 271-273

Event: Proceedings of the Seventy-Two Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Punta Cana

Country: Dominican Republic


Research and anecdotal evidence has shown reduced in lionfish densities in heavily culled areas. However, there is still concern that densities of lionfish are high at deep sites outside recreational dive limits. Understanding lionfish densities and behavior in deep reef habitats is vital for management of these habitats. We conducted roving diver surveys of deeper reef and artificial habitats (35 - 45m) off the reef tract of Islamorada Florida and adjacent shallower surveys (20-30m) day and night. CPUE of lionfish varied in these systems spatially and temporally. Preliminary results revealed higher CPUE of lionfish on deep low reefs during the day compared to at dusk. Lionfish may be moving to hunt or spawn in the evening and therefore dispersing daytime aggregations. Day time may be more efficient to cull time-limited deep dive sites. This differs from shallower, higher relief sites where lionfish are less cryptic at dusk and easier to find. Additional factors which may influence CPUE at deep reef and artificial structures are; intensity of culling pressure in adjacent shallow sites, presence of larger predators and reef structure and complexity. In addition, a hydrophone was deployed at one deep site with high CPUE. Thirteen lionfish were surveyed within three meters of the hydrophone upon retrieval. Over three hundred distinct recordings of lionfish were isolated. Frequency of calls increased during dusk. Further recording is underway and will be compared with video to establish behavior associated with the calls and their utility as a lure for traps and removal at deep sites.

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