Since their discovery in the region in 2009, invasive Indonesian-native lionfish have been taking over the Belize Barrier Reef. As a result, populations of local species have dwindled as they are either eaten or outcompeted by the invaders. This has led to devastating losses ecologically and economically; massive industries in the local nations, such as fisheries and tourism, have suffered greatly. Attempting to combat this, local organizations, from nonprofits to ecotourism companies, have been manually spear-hunting them on scuba dives to cull the population. One such company, Reef Conservation Institute (ReefCI), operating out of Tom Owens Caye outside of Placencia, Belize, has dissected their caught lionfish for the past three years and kept logs of results. With little to no studies reliably indexing the Belizean lionfish population, this data set provides a priceless opportunity to take a first look and probe further questions about this relatively unstudied population. This project accomplished this by computing various population statistics using these records, including the differences in sex ratio, presence of supraorbital tentacles, length, age, and more. The results and combinations of these factors provide new insight on current theories surrounding lionfish and their anatomy, but more importantly it opens new questions, the answers to which can shed light on new techniques to more efficiently cull the population for the future.
Balan, Joshua E.
"A Computational Profile Of Invasive Lionfish In Belize: A New Insight on a Destructive Species,"
The Journal of Purdue Undergraduate Research:
Vol. 13, Article 4.