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Invasion of the Lionfish

REEF Director of Special Programs to talk about threatening lionfish presence in the Atlantic

lionfish

Virginia Key, FL — The lionfish is a new predator prowling the coral reefs in the Atlantic Ocean. It has a voracious appetite, toxic spines, and is native to the Pacific. A number of expeditions to examine lionfish presence and the impact of this non-native species in Atlantic Ocean habitats has revealed worrying news. Join us on April 15, for a Sea Secrets lecture featuring Lad Akins, Director of Special Programs at the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF). Akins will provide insights on the situation, its causes and ways to improve it. The presentation will take place in the Rosenstiel School Auditorium, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Virginia Key. The event includes a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by the lecture at 6:00 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

Akins organizes monitoring and educational trips to coral reefs in the Atlantic. It was there, three years ago, during a free dive offshore of Eleuthera, The Bahamas that Akins noticed the first lionfish. Today they can be spotted from the Bahamas to Bermuda, along the U.S. East Coast and in the northern Caribbean. The alarming increase in lionfish populations has made Akins a fervent protector against this invasive species. A diver and conservationist, Akins is concentrating his efforts on defending Atlantic habitats from lionfish.

The Rosenstiel School and the Ocean Research and Education Foundation co-host the roster of distinguished scientists and explorers who will speak in the 2009 Sea Secrets lecture series.  These events are designed to provide insight and information about the oceans that cover two-thirds of the planet, and much of which, are still an enigma.

Sponsored by The Lawrence J. and Florence A. De George Charitable Trust, and the Charles N. and Eleanor Knight Leigh Foundation, Sea Secrets is organized by Drs. Robert Ginsburg and Ellen Prager, and is designed for the South Florida non-scientific community. 

Following the lecture, the winners of this year’s Rosenstiel School Underwater Photography Contest will be announced.  For more information, please visit http://www.rsmas.miami.edu/support/advancement/uw-2009/ or call 305-421-4207.

The Ocean Research and Education Foundation is a non-profit corporation focused on marine science. It organizes geological research in the Bahamas on the living counterparts of the first evidence of life on Earth some three billion years old. The Foundation also leads a Caribbean-wide assessment of the condition of coral reefs that has produced the only comprehensive regional database of corals, fish and algae (www.agrra.org). For the past decade, the Foundation and the Rosenstiel School have collaborated to present the popular Sea Secrets lecture series, five annual events aimed at informing and inspire students and the general public on marine science.

About the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School
Founded in the 1940’s, the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life.  For more information, please visit www.rsmas.miami.edu

Media Contacts:

Barbra Gonzalez
UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
305.421.4704
barbgo@rsmas.miami.edu
Marie Guma-Diaz
UM Media Relations Office
305.284.1601
m.gumadiaz@umiami.edu

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lionfish •  sea secrets •  lad akins •  environmental •  education •  ecology •  marine fish •