Posts Tagged 'NISAW'

A Blue View: Lionfish Invade Our Seas

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 pm as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

March 13, 2013: Lionfish Invade Our Seas

A Blue View podcast

Click here to listen to John and aquarist Ashleigh Clews discuss 
the threat lionfish pose to the health of our oceans.

Since 1992, when Pacific lionfish were first sighted in South Florida waters, this fish has become widely established all along the southeast United States and the Caribbean Sea, even being spotted as far north as New York. These distinctive looking fish—red and white striped with long pectoral fins and needle-like dorsal fins, have profoundly impacted the health of the ecosystems where they now reside.

So, how were these species introduced into local waters? Ashleigh Clews, a senior aquarist at the Aquarium, says it’s likely that the species was first introduced by home aquarium owners. Although these fish are popular in the trade, they often outgrow their tanks and will sometimes prey on other fish.

There was an estimated population boom of 700 percent between 2004 and 2008 in invaded areas. This presence of lionfish in the Atlantic is causing many problems. They’re eating native fish and crustaceans and destroying native habitats and ecosystems. Additionally, with no real predators and an average spawn rate of close to 2 million eggs a year, this species shows no sign of disappearing on its own.

Conservationists and researchers are working to address this growing problem through a variety of initiatives, including raising awareness of lionfish as a sustainable seafood option!

Have you ever eaten lionfish? Tell us about your experience in the comments! 

Thoughtful Thursdays: Invasive Species Spotlight

As National Invasive Species Awareness Week draws to a close, we’re dedicating today’s “Thoughtful Thursday” post to an invasive fish found in our local waters – the northern snakehead.

snakehead

This species is native to China and parts of Korea. It first appeared in the U.S. as an invasive species in Crofton, Maryland in 2002, and now can be found throughout the east coast, from New York to Florida.

Experts believe that snakeheads (also referred to as “frankenfish”) were introduced into our waterways by home aquarium owners and through the live fish food trade.

snakehead

How snakeheads are negatively impacting our native ecosystems: 

  • These fish compete with native species for food. As snakehead populations continue to grow in U.S. waters, their predatory nature will continue to “knock out” a wide array of native species.
  • They are passing diseases onto other fish.
  • Snakeheads are air-breathers capable of on-land migration. This means that their reach to new waterways is virtually limitless! Researchers are now reporting that the species is slowly making their way out west, wreaking havoc on ecosystems as they go.

What’s being done (and what YOU can do) to help manage the population: 

  • Learn more!
    National Aquarium and like-minded organizations are working to raise awareness of this species. Our DC venue actually has a snakehead on exhibit to make visitors aware of its invasive status!
  • Fish responsibly!
    Both local and federal government agencies, like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are working together to manage current populations and prevent future introductions of the fish into native environments. If captured, it is now illegal to release snakehead back into native waters.
  • Eat it to beat it!
    Local restaurants are beginning to use snakehead as a sustainable seafood option! They were also the featured ingredient for one of the Aquarium’s Fresh Thoughts sustainable seafood dinners!

Have you ever experimented with cooking an invasive species? Tell us about it in the comments!

A Blue View: The Truth About Invasive Species

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

March 6, 2013: The Truth About Invasive Species 

A Blue View podcastClick here to listen to John and aquarist Ashleigh Clews
discuss the impact that invasive species of plants
and animals 
have on our ecosystems. 

This week is National Invasive Species Awareness Week, a week dedicated to raising consciousness about invasive plants and animals and their effects on our environment and our economy.

In recent years, exotic species like lionfish, burmese pythons, zebra mussels and snakehead have had an increasing presence in local our waterways and oceans. With no natural predators in these new environments, these animals essentially wreak havoc on entire ecosystems. Once these intense habitat alterations and ecosystem degradations take place, it is very hard to reverse those effects.

In addition to environmental toll, invasive species cost billions of dollars every year in prevention, control and management.

What we can all do to protect native species: 

  • Prevention - A majority of invasive species end up in our waterways and oceans because of human release. Whether it’s the release of unwanted pets or the use of bait fish in their non-native area, these human introductions CAN be prevented through increased awareness! 
  • Early Detection and Response - Get a better sense of which species in your area are “nonindigenous” and invasive so that you can report them when spotted!

Kicking Off March with National Invasive Species Awareness Week!

March 3-8 is National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW)! National Aquarium, Washington, DC is participating to raise awareness about this international environmental issue.

So, what is an invasive species? 

An invasive species is any species that is non-native to the ecosystem that has the potential to cause economic or environmental harm to the ecosystem, or to human health. Invasive species pose a great danger to marine ecosystems by altering the water quality and competing with native species for food and other resources.

red lionfish

Red lionfish

Possibly the most well-known of all invasive species is the red lionfish Pterois volitans. This species has made a long journey from their native home of Indo-Pacific coral reefs to the coral reefs of the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and Atlantic Ocean.

Their venomous spines make the red lionfish inedible to most predators, which has lead to an exponential growth of this species since their introduction into these ecosystems. Efforts are now being made to educate local communities on how to catch and prepare lionfish as a sustainable seafood (Did you know? Lionfish was even one of the featured ingredients for a past Fresh Thoughts dinner!).

red lionfish

One of the most famous invasive species in Maryland is the Northern snakehead (Channa argus). Sometimes called the “Frankenfish,” this species is native to China, Russia, and North and South Korea.

Northern snakehead

Northern snakehead

In 2002, an adult snakehead was discovered in a pond in Crofton, Maryland, likely released into the water after being bought at a local fish market. Since first being found in local waters (including the Potomac), its territory has spread along the East Coast from New York to Florida, and the species is beginning to expand west! The snakehead is an apex predator and poses a serious threat to local fish populations.

Want to learn more? Join us at our DC venue for “Invasive Species on the Menu,” a discussion on methods of combating the rapid expansion of invasive species into local ecosystems.

Stay tuned for more updates during National Invasive Species Awareness Week! 


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