Preview: Submersible Lionfish Study

Image source: OceanGate

Image source: OceanGate

On Saturday, I have the privilege of attending the Expedition: Lionfish Summit in Hollywood, Florida. Here is a recent press release with a little background of the project.  Source: See the original article here. 

The latest tool in the battle against Florida’s alarming lionfish invasion will be deployed this week at Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center in Port Everglades in Broward County.

June 27 through 29, five-person manned submersible called Antipodes will take scientists on a series of dives to study the growing lionfish population. The goal is to foster long-term collaboration among scientists to halt the unprecedented expansion of this invasive species.

Antipodes, operated by OceanGate Inc., will utilize a high-powered prototype collection system to catch the fish for later study. The use of OceanGate’s submersible creates an opportunity for real-time scientific collaboration and observation of lionfish in areas below diver depth. The data collected during the dives will be made available to scientists and researchers across the country.

The recent invasion of lionfish, a nonnative predator known for its venomous spines and dramatically increased Florida numbers, has created a serious threat to marine and reef ecosystems. The environmental impact could have direct implications on Florida’s fishing and tourism industries.

Industries such as recreational saltwater fishing on Florida’s east coast “generated 29,000 jobs and $3.3 billion in sales in 2011 alone,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Hosted by Nova Southeastern University, the mission is supported by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and will conclude Saturday with a panel of experts on aquatic invasive species. Scientists will discuss the data and imagery captured during the expedition, as well as their first-hand observations.

Following the summit, Chef Kareem Anguin from the Oceanaire Seafood Room in Miami will showcase some of the easiest and tastiest ways to cook lionfish to help promote commercial fishing of the species — one possible solution to control the population.

“The opportunity to further current research with submersible dives beyond diver depths will offer much needed insight into the species, and bring science closer to a solution for control,” said Richard Dodge, dean of Nova’s Oceanographic Center.

Participating organizations include the Key Largo-based Reef Environmental Education Foundation and the University of Miami’s Abess Center and Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

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