On Tuesday, March 5th, 4 scientists from the Cape Eleuthera Institute made the trip to Nassau for the first Bahamas National Natural History Conference, co-hosted by the Bahamas National Trust and the College of Bahamas. On this first day of the conference, the audience got to hear from Dr. Jocelyn Curtis-Quick, manager of the Lionfish Research and Education Program, discussing the positive impact of removing lionfish from Bahamian reefs. Presenting data collected by Dr. Stephanie Green from Simon Fraser University, Dr. Curtis-Quick showed the audience a model for determining the effects of lionfish on native fish production, and posed the idea that although total eradication of lionfish is unlikey, partial removals (from targeted removals and derbies) can be an effective management strategy.
Later in the day, Dr. Edd Brooks, manager of the Shark Ecology and Conservation Program, spoke about his six years of research on the Caribbean Reef shark in the Bahamas, an ecologically important apex predator. Dr. Brooks showed interesting sex differences in depth that the sharks inhabit, based on data he obtained from satellite tags that tracked the shark’s movements over a period of 8 months.Both talks were well attended, and were a great way to start off the conference. Aaron Shultz, Director of CEI, and Claire Thomas, who studies queen conch ecology, will present later in the week. Thanks for representing CEI!
Isobel Flake, research assistant for the Lionfish Research and Education Program, has been working on a research project during her time at CEI. Here she describes her research:
Like many programs at CEI, the Lionfish Research and Education Program is constantly occupied with fieldwork, data entry, the Island School research class, and miscellaneous other projects. With so little excess time, the program rarely has the chance to get involved with local communities. For this reason, I decided to focus my efforts on community outreach and education by creating lionfish signs for my independent project. Ideally posted in 19 locations across the island, I plan to have these signs posted at community gathering areas such as docks, marinas, and/or community centers. The signs offer information including history of the lionfish invasion in the western Atlantic, why they pose such concerning threats, and what people can do to help. The goals for this project are not only to increase awareness, but also to encourage local consumption of the tasty invasive.
October was a packed and exciting month for CEI’s Lionfish Research and Education Program (LREP). A new study tagging lionfish in a novel way is currently happening at CEI. This monitoring technique can help us track when, where, and how the lionfish are spawning. The hopes are that in the future we will be able to more effectively reduce population sizes.
Dr. Lad Akins, director of the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), spent a week at CEI to help make this project happen. Under his direction, accompanied by new LREP manager Dr. Jocelyn Curtis-Quick and interns, several acoustic receivers were placed at the edge of the Exuma Sound. Divers previously scouted this area to identify hotspots, or areas where several lionfish were found together, to place these receivers. After the receivers were set up, lionfish were captured to place tags inside their guts. This required underwater surgery on the lionfish, a procedure that had never been done before. Previously, when fish had been tagged, they had to be brought to the surface. Continue reading