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Apex Predator Monitoring & Lionfish Containment Project

“You should be afraid if you are in the ocean and don’t see sharks” Dr Sylvia Earle

APEX PREDATOR MONITORING USING BRUVS

With the start of our project in 2021, a mission unfolded—to assemble an invaluable dataset of apex predators that grace the waters of Carriacou.

Faced with the rarity of natural sightings, we turned to a pioneering technique developed by the SharkLab in Bimini. The deployment of baited remote underwater video surveillance, aptly known as BRUVS, stands as our tool of choice.

BRUVS allow us to capture these elusive marine species, while mitigating the impact from divers. As we bridge the realm between the seen and unseen, the mysteries of Carriacou’s waters are gradually unveiled, etching an indelible chapter in our journey of discovery.

  • WHY MONITOR APEX PREDATORS?

    Sharks have been on this planet for 450 million years (longer than trees!) and have survived 5 mass extinctions.

    They orchestrate harmony among prey fish species, removing unhealthy and injured individuals, maintaining healthy populations.

    Apex predators in Carriacou include many other species, including barracuda, mackerel, groupers and moray eels. Monitoring apex predator diversity allows us to gauge the health of the reef ecosystem, predict changes in prey species, and long term changes in ecosystem dynamics over time.
  • UNDERSTANDING THE IMPORTANCE OF SHARKS ON OUR REEFS

    In the dance of nature, harmony reigns. Dinoflagellates nurture herbivores and copepods, cascading balance to secondary consumers. Tertiary and apex predators emerge as nature's guardians, ensuring no group grows unchecked, their pivotal role preserving equilibrium.

    Yet, disturb one layer, and ripples cascade. Pressure on any level impacts marine life. Remove apex predators through fishing, and tertiary consumers surge, overfeeding on secondary ones. Primary consumers multiply, depleting producers. Once the foundation crumbles, the entire chain falters—nature's symphony silenced.
  • WHAT WE'VE FOUND SO FAR

    Carriacou's narrative unfolds as producers burgeon, their numbers swelling due to overfishing of primary and secondary consumers—a phenomenon mirrored in reef-bound algae proliferation. Scarce secondary consumers lead to fewer tertiary counterparts, while petite barracudas dominate apex predator sightings.

    In 2024, our horizons expand. Surveillance spans diverse island locales, including the convergence of the Atlantic and Caribbean Sea on Carriacou's south side.

    Come join us, unravel the apex predators gracing Carriacou's aquatic realm, and be part of nature's captivating story.

lionfish containment

Across the span of two decades, the Caribbean Region has grappled with an unrelenting wave—the invasion of lionfish. In Carriacou, their presence first plagued our waters in 2015, sparking a call to action. Since that juncture, Caribbean Reef Buddy has taken a proactive stance in the strategic containment of lionfish within our reproductive reef systems. As staunch allies of Mother Nature’s orchestration, we guide the integration of these novel species into the intricate tapestry of the aquatic food chain, all while preserving the delicate equilibrium of our underwater realm.

  • WHY CONTAIN LIONFISH?

    Lionfish are a beautiful species of fish native to the Indo-Pacific region. They're small, but voracious predators and mainly eat whatever they can fit in their mouths.

    When they first appeared in the Caribbean region, they had no natural predators and so their numbers swelled and their population spread unchecked.

    The created havoc on our reef eco-system by wiping out generations of small reef fish and fry, getting fat in the process.
  • UNDERSTANDING THE IMPORTANCE OF CONTAINMENT

    As we already know, everything in nature is in perfect balance. When we introduce an invasive species into an environment it can take some time for nature to redress itself.

    In an environment where any layer of the food chain comes under pressure this can have a significant impact on the prevalence and density of other marine species. so where Lionfish were concerned they would consume vast populations of fry and juvenile fish without fear of predation.

    Our role was to help to address the balance and support the reefs as these new species were fully integrated into the ecosystem.
  • BE THE PREDATOR

    Volunteers get trained on how to use underwater spears to hunt lionfish. We start off on land, perfecting the proper technique and practicing spearing fruits and plastic bottles. Then there is in-water training where volunteers master their buoyancy through a variety of obstacles and activities while carrying spears.

    After that, you are unleashed onto the reef – the lionfish better be ready for you!

WHY MONITOR APEX PREDATORS?

Sharks have been on this planet for 450 million years (longer than trees!) and have survived 5 mass extinctions.

They orchestrate harmony among prey fish species, removing unhealthy and injured individuals, maintaining healthy populations.

Apex predators in Carriacou include many other species, including barracuda, mackerel, groupers and moray eels. Monitoring apex predator diversity allows us to gauge the health of the reef ecosystem, predict changes in prey species, and long term changes in ecosystem dynamics over time.

UNDERSTANDING THE IMPORTANCE OF SHARKS ON OUR REEFS

In the dance of nature, harmony reigns. Dinoflagellates nurture herbivores and copepods, cascading balance to secondary consumers. Tertiary and apex predators emerge as nature’s guardians, ensuring no group grows unchecked, their pivotal role preserving equilibrium.<br><br>

Yet, disturb one layer, and ripples cascade. Pressure on any level impacts marine life. Remove apex predators through fishing, and tertiary consumers surge, overfeeding on secondary ones. Primary consumers multiply, depleting producers. Once the foundation crumbles, the entire chain falters—nature’s symphony silenced.

WHAT WE'VE FOUND SO FAR

Carriacou’s narrative unfolds as producers burgeon, their numbers swelling due to overfishing of primary and secondary consumers—a phenomenon mirrored in reef-bound algae proliferation. Scarce secondary consumers lead to fewer tertiary counterparts, while petite barracudas dominate apex predator sightings.<br><br>

In 2024, our horizons expand. Surveillance spans diverse island locales, including the convergence of the Atlantic and Caribbean Sea on Carriacou’s south side.<br><br>

Come join us, unravel the apex predators gracing Carriacou’s aquatic realm, and be part of nature’s captivating story.

WHY CONTAIN LIONFISH?

Lionfish are a beautiful species of fish native to the Indo-Pacific region. They’re small, but voracious predators and mainly eat whatever they can fit in their mouths.<br><br>

When they first appeared in the Caribbean region, they had no natural predators and so their numbers swelled and their population spread unchecked. <br><br>
The created havoc on our reef eco-system by wiping out generations of small reef fish and fry, getting fat in the process.

UNDERSTANDING THE IMPORTANCE OF CONTAINMENT

They found their way into Caribbean waters a few decades ago (most likely by private aquarium owners) and have multiplied rapidly, eating their way through populations of native tropical fish! In the Bahamas between 2008 and 2010, they reduced the biomass of 42 other fish species by an average of 65%!

They eat nearly anything that can fit in their mouth and if left unchecked, they will cause irreversible changes to Caribbean coral reefs.

BE THE PREDATOR

Volunteers get trained on how to use underwater spears to hunt lionfish.

We start off on land, perfecting the proper technique and practicing spearing fruits and plastic bottles.

Then there is in-water training where volunteers master their buoyancy through a variety of obstacles and activities while carrying spears.

After that, you are unleashed onto the reef – the lionfish better be ready for you!