Jo Spalburg reported some interesting news from the Saba Bank.
Local fishermen today independently reported to Jimmy van Rijn, Saba Bank Park Officer, that since November 2013, while gutting Blackfin Snapper (Lutjanus buccanella) caught in traps on the Saba Bank, in depths between 90 and 108 meters, the invasive lionfish (Pterois) of up to 20cm length is being found frequently in the snappers’ stomach.
It would be a critical breakthrough if it can be verified that Blackfin Snappers feed on lionfish, which is thought to have no predators in the Caribbean and thus is spreading exponentially throughout the region, causing a tremendous threat to native marine fauna and local fisheries.
Paul Hoetjes of the Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland in Bonaire and member of the Saba Bank National Park Steering Committee stated that it would be the first proof of natural predation on lionfish in the Caribbean and constitute a major discovery.
Jimmy will now attempt to collect sufficient samples in collaboration with the fishermen to show that this it is not a freak occurrence and to draw some conclusions on comparative sizes of predator and prey. Updates to follow.