83.9 F
Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, July 18, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesFifth Lionfish Caught in U.S.V.I. Waters

Fifth Lionfish Caught in U.S.V.I. Waters

Feb. 26, 2009 — A fifth Pacific lionfish was recovered in Virgin Islands waters, this one on the eastern end of St. Croix, less than a mile off Isaacs Bay just south of Point Udall, according to a Thursday news release from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources.
The first four lionfish in local waters were caught off the western end of the island over the previous four months, and biologists had hoped the invasive species would be limited to that area. That hope has been dashed by the latest discovery.
"We hoped they may be confined to the western end of St. Croix. No more," said William Coles, PhD., of the Fish and Wildlife Division, who has been introducing the public to lionfish in an effort to educate the public on the importance of trying to control them.
Besides being on of the most venomous fish in the ocean, lionfish are voracious predators. When hunting, they corner prey using their large fins and then use their quick reflexes to swallow the prey whole. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have encourage divers and fishers to be extremely cautious and avoid contact with the venomous spines of the lionfish. Although not deadly, they are very painful.
The fish are native to tropical waters in the Pacific and Indian oceans, but have spread into Florida and the Bahamas and are now reaching down into the Caribbean.
The first two lionfish in local waters were caught off the Frederiksted Pier and Rainbow Beach. The second and third were caught by a commercial fisherman about three miles offshore of Good Hope School.
The latest lionfish was caught by Bobby Thomas, another commercial fisherman, less than a mile off Isaacs Bay just south of Point Udall at the extreme eastern end of St. Croix.
The fish were all caught in about 50 feet of water.
"The commercial fishers understand that this is their livelihood at stake," Coles said. "We have to work together to help protect our resources," said Dr. Coles.
Coles, the chief of environmental education and research in the Bahamas, said an individual Lionfish can reduce juvenile fish on a four-square-meter reef by an average of 85 percent in only five weeks. Lionfish now extend from New Jersey-Rhode Island to Belize and as far east as Bermuda and St. Croix.
Coles asked that all SCUBA divers and fishermen be aware of lionfish and report any sightings to DPNR.
Schools interested in having Coles or other staff from Fish and Wildlife, present lionfish and other aquatic information to their students can call DPNR at 773-1082.

Back Talk

Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.