Friday, August 17, 2012

MSI Session 2 Update
Our interns had a busy conclusion to their 2nd week.  On Thursday they participated in parrotfish follows to determine some of the differences between male and female parrotfish behavior.  In the afternoon, they learned about bathymetry and created bathymetric models and maps using clay and transparency paper.

On Friday morning, the interns identified algae by collecting various samples from the dock next to BIOS.  In the afternoon they went on an algae scavenger hunt, and spent time in the lab classifying what they found with guest algae expert Thea Popolizio, from the University of Rhode Island.

Additionally, this week our interns spent some time learning about Lionfish.  This is a very important subject for everyone to learn about because the lionfish are an invasive species that is very dangerous to local ecology of Bermuda.  Here are the facts our interns learned about lionfish:

Diet:  Carnivore
Average life span in the wild: Up to 15 years
Size: 11.8 to 20 in (30 to 47 cm)
Weight: Up to 2.6 lbs (1.2 kg)

·      Can have up to 18 dorsal fins that are similar to needles - A lionfish will often spread its feathery pectoral fins and herd small fish into a confined space where it can more easily swallow them.
·      Their needles contain defensive venom - If attacked, a lionfish delivers potent venom via its needle-like dorsal fins. Its sting is extremely painful to humans and can cause nausea and breathing difficulties, but is rarely fatal.
·      Feeds mainly on fish and shrimp – They hunt mostly during the day, and in the nighttime they hide in small underwater caves and under ledges.  Its stomach can expand to 30 times its normal size.
·      Habitat: coral reefs and shallow bays - Native to the reefs and rocky crevices of the Indo-Pacific, although they've found their way to warm ocean habitats worldwide.
·      Family: scorpion fish – They are also called turkey fish, dragon fish and scorpion fish.
·      External spawners – A single female lionfish can spawn over 2 million eggs per year.
·      They Can be cooked and eaten as food.

Lionfish are a problem for Bermuda because:

·      In Bermuda they have no natural predators.
·      Lionfish prey are commercially, recreationally, and ecologically important.  Dense lionfish populations can consist of over 200 adults per acre, and can consume more than 460,000 prey fish per acre per year.
·      People have to kill 27 percent of their population just to keep their numbers the same as they are now, and that’s a big task.
·      They are an invading intruder that has been known to breed at an alarming rate of 30,000 to 40,000 eggs every four days.
·      They are gathering their forces at 200ft, which is a deeper depth than recreational diving permits.  They come up into the shallows to spawn. 
·      The current methods of regulating the lionfish population range from spear fishing to the use of experimental traps.
·      Many people believe the lionfish invasion is the worst environmental disaster the Atlantic Ocean has ever faced.  It’s worse than an oil spill because you can plug an oil leak and mop up all the oil and it dispenses and goes away.

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