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FWC Launches Smartphone App to Help Fight Against Invasive Lionfish

Lionfish Invasion

Florida has introduced a smart phone app to track and collect data while raising awareness of the spiked lionfish invasive species, and encouraging people to report sightings.

Officials hope the app will be useful in eradicating the invasive species from the waters.

FWC spokeswoman Amanda Nalley sees the app as valuable tool for taking back the Florida coasts. “Hopefully by having this app, by being able to collect this additional information, we’ll be able to discover new tools and new ways to control the lionfish population,” Nalley says.

The first 250 successful users of the app will get a free Lionfish Control Team T-shirt with an inter-active logo which, via the free Aurasma app, can display a lionfish video.

Those who have no smart devices can report lionfish at MyFWC.com/fishing.

There are two lionfish species that are considered problematic in the United States. One is the red lionfish, characterized by its white or cream color and numerous red stripes, and elongated fin spines.

Another is the devil firefish that looks similar to the red lionfish, except that it has fewer spines. These species are non-native to the U.S waters as they usually breed in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans.

The abundance of the lionfish could threaten the native fish in the area, affect food resources, and endanger human lives with their stings.

The lionfish preys on native fish such as yellowtail snapper, Nassau grouper and banded coral shrimp, and other crustaceans.

"The lionfish has no known natural predators in the Atlantic...and the ability to spawn year-round," said the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Since their first sighting off Florida’s Atlantic coast 25 years ago, the banded lionfish population has increased rapidly, according to the wildlife agency.

Popular as aquarium fish, they have spread from Florida to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and to the Bahamas.

Report Florida Lionfish App

The Report Florida Lionfish app is a new way to report your lionfish sightings and harvest. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesperson Amanda Nalley talks about the new app and how you can receive an interactive t-shirt.

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