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Robotic Hunting


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It's a cool robot but I don't think it has a chance of making a difference. I spend a lot of time spearfishing here in South Florida and lionfish are here to stay. The issue most efforts at controlling them fail to address, whether it's this robot or eradication efforts by divers, is that lionfish can inhabit a range of depth from very shallow water to 600+ feet. Meaning there will likely always be (large) reservoir populations of lionfish in depths that divers (or submersibles) can't effectively target that continue to reproduce in the area which includes the entire Caribbean and as far north as North Carolina. Their geographic range also compounds the problem since eradication efforts that might be locally successful on a reef in say Key Largo do little to curb the population since ocean currents can bring a new crop of larval lionfish from as far away as Belize or Honduras which would then be able to reestablish the population in the area.


It's a difficult issue since lionfish do do a lot of harm to juvenile reef species however, I personally feel most efforts at control fall into the "feel good" category rather than having a meaningful impact on the population. Lionfish are native to an enormous range in the Indo-Pacific and well adapted to the reef there, which in turn is adapted to their presence as well. Our reefs and the species that inhabit them aren't that different, and the predators of lionfish that exist in the Indo-Pacific exist here too, they'll start to figure out lionfish are edible and manage them here as well.


This is an interesting read on controlling invasive fish stocks using biological methods, something that scales far better than a hunter robot. Whether it would be possible with lionfish I don't know and since the open ocean has a lot more variables than a closed lake there's the possibility of "supermale" fish making it to their native range and breeding there which could cause problems of its own.




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