Age And Growth Of The Invasive Lionfish: North Carolina, USA, vs Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean

Lionfish are an invasive species that are now well established throughout the Atlantic. Originally from the Indo-Pacific, they have decimated local shes’ populations due to their rapid reproduction, broad environmental tolerance, voracious appetite, and lack of predators. Through the examination of otoliths paired with morphometric data, this study investigates the age and growth of lionfish (sp. P. volitans) from two locations: North Carolina, USA and Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean. Otoliths were extracted from lionfish samples, embedded in resin, and then sectioned so that age could be determined with microscopic analysis. These age estimates along with the corresponding total lengths were used to calculate growth rates via the von Bertalanffy growth equation. Results returned a K and L-in nity value of 0.32 cm and 42.5 cm for lionfish from NC and 0.39 cm and 38.7 cm for Bonaire, respectively. These findings suggest that lionfish from NC have slower growth but grow older and larger than that of lionfish from Bonaire. This likely attributes to location as well as convenience and strength of removal efforts. In Bonaire, lionfish are hunted often and are easily accessible to the public, whereas in North Carolina, lionfish are found miles off the coast and their harvesting is not as popular. 

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