Florida is currently facing a large outbreak of lionfish in their waters, which is destroying the reef systems and wildlife. Lionfish are equipped with the ability to deliver a strong, not fatal, sting to anyone who manages to touch their fins.
In an effort to control this spreading population, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is turning its attention to a new smartphone app.
This new app, known as Report Florida Lionfish, is designed to allow people to report sightings of lionfish quickly and easily from their phones. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which introduced the app, can then send divers to the area to catch some of these fish.
The Commission is even awarding a free “Lionfish Control Team” t-shirt to the first 250 people that correctly report a sighting via the app.
Lionfish were first spotted on Florida’s Atlantic coast 25 years ago, and it didn’t take long for the population to grow. The creatures are not native to the area. Researchers believe that aquarium owners released their personal fish into the waters to start the population. DNA evidence suggests that all of the lionfish found in these waters came from a set of 6-8 mothers.
Lionfish have no natural predators. They consume fish, invertebrates and other creatures that help control the Florida reef systems, destroying full communities in a matter of days.
With this new app, the state hopes to have a slight advantage on catching these destructive fish and restoring their reef systems.