As a new semester is upon us, Cape Eleuthera Institute community welcomes four new interns to The Sustainable Fisheries Team. Since starting their internship two weeks ago, Helen Conlon, Rob Drummond, Eduardo Lopez, and Logan Zeinart have already dissected over 100 lionfish, helped out with Island School SCUBA week, visited and cleaned the Staghorn Coral Nursery at Tunnel Rock, and practiced fish identification for the quarterly lionfish patch reef surveys coming up this month. Each new member has been an integral part of the team thus far and has offered their valuable insights with their varying backgrounds and experience in marine science.
Helen became interested in the lionfish invasion after working as a Divemaster in Bonaire, the Caribbean, 4 years ago where she took part in regular spearing (lionfish spearing as a way to control population growth). This lead her to complete her dissertation surrounding cooperative hunting in lionfish at CEI last summer, and to her return this year as a sustainable fisheries intern.
Rob Drummond is originally from the UK, although he has been working in The Bahamas since January as a volunteer and intern at Greenforce and Forfar, respectively. Since graduating from the University of East Anglia, with a BSc in Environmental Science back in 2011, Rob has been diving in Madagascar and worked for an environmental consultancy back in England before backpacking around South America last year.
Eduardo Lopez is from Bogota, Colombia and graduated from the University of Virginia in 2015 with a double major in Economics and Environmental Thought and Practice. Eddie is excited to be back on Eleuthera after his time as an Island School student in Spring '09. Eddie is eager to help the Sustainable Fisheries Research Team here at CEI.
Logan Zeinart is from New Zealand and completed a marine science diploma and degree. He loves everything marine, from the simplest animals (Porifera - sponges) to the marine fauna, and everything in between.
With the help of the four new interns as well as the Sustainable Fisheries RA, Alexio Brown, and RT, Alanna Waldman, the team dissected 132 lionfish last week. Thirty of the fish were collected from the June patch reef surveys and 102 lionfish were brought in from the Slayer Campaign. The Team collected data from all of the fish and filleted the fish brought in by the local fishermen. Amongst the 132 fish dissected, the longest ever recorded here at The Cape Eleuthera Institute was part of the batch at 42 cm.
A notable discovery was the finding of a bar jack inside the mouth of one of the lionfish dissected. The heaviest fish was just less than 1,000 grams and one lionfish, found at one of the patch reefs during our June surveys, had 13 fish in its stomach. This data has implications for the future of our reefs because, if lionfish are constantly consuming reef fish, then the native fish populations will decline and lead to a decline in the health of our reef ecosystems.
The Sustainable Fisheries Team will be conducting their September patch reef surveys in a week and look forward to monitoring the lionfish invasion, as well as removing more lionfish from the patch reefs!