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December 17, 2017 8:20 am EST
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2006 Lionfish Cruise Logs
Monday, October 23, 2006 @ 07:59:28 EDT

2006 Lionfish Cruise Logs

Lionfish Research Mission 2006

Dates: July 27 – Aug 4 2006

NOAA Ship Nancy Foster

The Indo-Pacific lionfish is native to the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the southwest Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. Lionfish were first reported by recreational SCUBA divers off the coast of North Carolina in 2000. They are primarily located in water depths from 100 to 260 ft (Figure 1 the map). Now in its third year, our research will expand on previous studies documenting a wide range distribution of lionfish with high abundances, comparable to many native species.

Abundance data from previous surveys serve as baseline estimates for determining population growth and geographic distribution of this species. We will determine if lionfish populations are increasing off the coast of North Carolina. This will establish a foundation for determining the impact of lionfish on native fish and invertebrate communities. We can accomplish this, in part, by expanding our native species surveys to include all native fishes, especially tropicals. We hope to identify those species that may be potential prey of lionfish which, when combined with dietary analysis lionfish, should allow assessment of an important ecological impact of lionfish introduction. In addition, a better understanding of lionfish reproductive potential and seasonality is a necessary component of this research. This information will allow researchers to assess the potential impact of the lionfish on native communities.

Lionfish have been found primarily in water depths greater than 100 ft off the coast of North Carolina where the warm Gulf Stream waters moderate bottom water temperatures year round. We have placed temperature sensors all along the seafloor to monitor seasonal bottom water temperatures to better understand the role of temperature in limiting lionfish distributions.

This year's activities include efforts to:

Conduct visual and video transect surveys to quantify lionfish and native fish species including tropical fish and likely prey of lionfish. This will be done on SCUBA at locations within Onslow Bay (Figure 1). (Dive Operations)

Collect live lionfish for reproduction and life history studies

Deploy and retrieve temperature sensors and submerged buoys. (Dive Operations)

Conduct multi-beam sonar transects to map and identify potential lionfish habitat off the coast of North Carolina.

Conduct plankton tows for presence of lionfish larvae

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