Volume 73

Site fidelity and monthly growth rates of invasive Lionfish calculated from in-situ observations in Choctawhatchee Bay Estuary, Florida

Fogg, A.
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Date: November, 2020

Pages: 69

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

City: Virtual

Country: Virtual


Invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans) and their impacts to the ecosystems they have invaded have been well documented since their invasion begin in the mid-1980s. Life history characteristics such as age and growth have been estimated from lionfish otoliths but there is a paucity of studies utilizing in-situ tag recapture methodologies to describe lionfish growth. Further, invasive lionfish have been observed in estuaries around the Caribbean and in South Florida but site fidelity in bays and estuaries of northwest Florida have not been described. Due to the relatively shallow artificial reef habitat (<8m) utilized for this study, lionfish were able to be captured and brought to the surface for tagging and measurement with no observed effects of barotrauma. The water temperature in the Choctawhatchee Bay Estuary (CBE) can drop to temperatures close to and in some cases below the lethal limit of lionfish (~10°c). Observations from the last year indicate that lionfish in the CBE are able to survive these lower temperatures for short periods of time. While this study is still ongoing, 12 tagged lionfish have been at large for 14 to 103days and have a mean growth rate of 0.33mm per day which is less than growth rates reported for lionfish studied in Loxahatchee River estuary, Florida (0.46mm/day). Lastly, all lionfish tagged in the CBE have strong site fidelity with the exception of one lionfish which moved 1,114m from its tagging location to another reef site monitored for this study.

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