Direct and indirect effects of invasive lionfish in the northern Gulf of Mexico and their potential mitigation


Speaker: Dr. Will Patterson

Affiliation: University of South Alabama, Department of Marine Sciences, Dauphin Island Sea Lab

Seminar Title: Direct and indirect effects of invasive lionfish in the northern Gulf of Mexico and their potential mitigation

When: May 10, 2016 11:00am EST

Where: MSL Conference Room (134)

Host: Dr. Gary Mitchum

Join event on Facebook


Guy Harvey Fisheries Symposium

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Dr. Ernst B. Peebles is aboard the R/V Weatherbird II with Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) testing lionfish traps twelve miles off the Sarasota, Florida coast in 35 ft. of water.  So far the traps have been unsuccessful.  They are Skyping Live at the Guy Harvey Fisheries Symposium at the USF St. Petersburg campus

Taking Back the Lion's Share - 2015 Finalist

ST. PETERSBURG, Fl - The Gulf Coast Innovation Challenge has just announced its finalists, and we made the cut! This award provides the opportunity for Dr. Stallings and his team to continue with development of the LAIR Lionfish trap, and compete for nearly half a million dollars of funding that could help bring affordable Lionfish filets to dinner tables along the Gulf. Our social media support played a large part in helping us become finalists, so thank you to everybody who watched our proposal video and clicked like.

For more information about the LAIR, see our Finalist page at GCIC's website:

View the Gulf Coast Innovation Challenge Finalists

A Thorny Matter: Invasion of the Indo-Pacific Lionfish in the Western Atlantic

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Lionfish were introduced by aquarium hobbyists to waters off the southeast coast of Florida in the 1980s.  Over the past ten years, these beautiful, ornate fish have rapidly spread across the entire tropical western Atlantic, from North Carolina to Venezuela, throughout the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.  The population sizes in the invaded range commonly exceed those from their native habitats by several orders of magnitude.  With a seemingly insatiable appetite for our native fishes, and a lack of local predators and disease to keep them in check, Lionfish can have detrimental effects on the invaded marine ecosystem.  In this talk, we will review the history of the invasion, discuss the biology and ecology that has allowed them to be so successful, highlight some damaging impacts they can have, and finish with what scientists are doing to combat the problem.

Dr. Stallings is an Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science.  His research seeks to understand the factors that affect the sizes of fish populations, including those that are of commercial and recreational importance.  His recent work on Lionfish has included the largest field experiment ever attempted to estimate the effort required to reduce their populations, analyzing removal data from the National Park Service, and lobbying the Florida Congress to heighten awareness and increase action from the state.

The speaker series is located at Weedon Island Cultural and Natural History Center at 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St Petersburg, FL 33702. Light refreshments generously donated from the Friends of Weedon Island ( will be served prior to the 7 p.m. seminar. Please arrive 15 minutes early to sign in.

This program is recommended for an adult audience.   For more information click on this event.

Joseph Curtis, has been awarded the 2014 Guy Harvey Scholarship

ST. PETERSBURG - Fish Ecology Lab masters student, Joseph Curtis, has been awarded the 2014 Guy Harvey Scholarship for his proposal to quantify competition strength between the invasive Lionfish and native mesopredators such as Graysby. The award is funded by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and administered by Florida Sea Grant.

Reefs along the edge of Biscayne National Park experiencing a bleaching event

HOMESTEAD, FL - This past week, while diving to collect data for our ongoing lionfish study, Fish Ecology Lab members noticed that the reefs of South Florida are a lot less vibrant than usual. It appears that reefs along the edge of Biscayne National Park are currently experiencing a “bleaching” event.

Coral bleaching occurs when the algal cells that live within corals tissues, tiny dinoflagellates called zooxanthellae, become stressed and are expelled by the coral polyps. These algae give corals their bright colors, so corals without zooxanthellae appear white, or bleached.

What causes these stressors is not fully understood, but it has historically been linked to increases in water temperature. Our divers can attest it is HOT, with some sites registering 87 digress F in 65 feet of water! Check out this paper for more information about this connection:

Why does bleaching matter?

These microscopic algae are symbionts, living inside the coral for protection and in-turn providing energy to the coral via photosynthesis. Corals use this energy to drive their basic life functions. Without the algae, corals must rely on direct feeding to provide all of their energy needs. This method is less efficient and over time the corals will begin to die as they struggle to keep up with their energy demand.

To learn more about the Fish Ecology Lab visit their website or like them on Facebook

View the embedded image gallery online at: