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June 4 Brown Bag Lunch: Lionfish Inshore Invasion

Ted Moorhead Lagoon House

June 4, 2019
12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Admission is free.

Join us for our June Brown Bag Lunch presentation with Aaron Hasenei and an in-depth look at lionfish and the risks to inshore ecosystems.

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Lionfish have broadly established themselves throughout the Western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico from seasonally as far north as Cape Cod to as far south as Brazil and are considered to be one of the top 15 global environmental issues. These animals drastically reduce biodiversity and cause large economic losses to a degree that has not yet been quantified throughout their invaded range.

Lionfish map

Even more worrisome is the idea that these animals can tolerate almost entirely freshwater and have already been found 4 km inshore within the Loxahatchee River, FL. Since inshore estuaries and watersheds provide nursery habitats to thousands of commercially and ecologically important species, there is a major concern to the impacts lionfish will have on these sensitive and vital ecosystems especially with future climate trends.

This project aims to elucidate the capacity of lionfish invasion on the basis of their visual ecologies, temperature-oxygen influences on metabolism, and hypoxia tolerances under estuarine conditions. Furthermore, if paired with satellite oceanographic data, these findings will allow for an anticipated proactive approach to lionfish management to foreacast current and future population dynamics and ecosystem impacts under varying environmental conditions.

Aaron Hasenei: Lionfish research

Aaron Hasenei recently graduated with his Masters degree in Marine Biology from Nova Southeastern University where he conducted his novel lionfish research under Dr. David Kerstetter and Dr. Richard Brill at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Originally from western Maryland, he takes his passion for conservation and love for nature and applies it to his research as well as his daily life. He hopes to continue this passion through a doctoral program in 2020 where he plans to continue his research in conservation physiology of fishes as a newly integrated approach in the scientific community. Aaron spends most of his free time camping, fishing, kayaking, and diving, but also has a strong love of music through singing and playing guitar. Currently, he works as the head aquarist at the Rainforest Cafe in Sunrise, FL where his full-time job is maintaining a 12,000 gallon aquarium and providing husbandry care to over 300 marine fishes.

This event is free and open to the public; all attendees have to do is register online. If interested and able, we ask participants to donate $5 toward our guest speaker series. This educational series is a long-standing and cherished program of the MRC that is supported by volunteers and the community’s charitable giving. All donations are tax-deductible. Attendees are encouraged and welcome to bring and enjoy their lunch during the seminar! For more information on the Marine Resources Council, please visit