Over the past decade, lionfish have become a significant invasive species in the Atlantic Ocean. According to NOAA, the first lionfish was captured in the Atlantic in 1985 and was most likely an aquarium castoff. By 2009, the species was firmly established in the waters between North Carolina and South America, with the population continually spreading.
These predators have venomous spikes and a rampant appetite. They feast on more than 50 species of fish, and females can produce 2 million eggs each year. Needless to say, population control is a labor-intensive and challenging pursuit. Now, scientists may have a solution.
According to Steve Gittings, the chief scientist for NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries, lionfish are highly attracted to structures, even if there is no bait. To target this invasive species, scientists are now going to be placing lattice fencing–the kind you use to keep varmint out from under your deck–in the deep ocean.
Lattice is inexpensive and easy to retrieve and replace if it breaks. Most importantly, it is irresistible to lionfish. The lattice will be placed inside purse traps, which lay flat on the ground, ready to snap together like a coin purse once lionfish have attached to the lattice.
According to Gittings, when he performed underwater tests with this contraption, he captured a fair amount of lionfish, even without using live bait. Control of lionfish in the deep sea is not currently happening, but with this trap, he hopes to change that before the invasive species significantly reduces native populations. You can read more here.