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Florida targets invasive lionfish with new app

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Florida’s reefs and wildlife are being negatively impacted by an invasive species. In fact, lionfish are wreaking havoc on fisheries and marine ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico, Western Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea.

Lionfish, also called turkey fish, dragon fish and scorpion fish, are native to the reefs and rocky crevices of the Indo-Pacific but are unwanted invaders in Florida.

As one more tool in their arsenal to fight the prolific species the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) has release the Report Florida Lionfish app. To date more than 2,500 people have downloaded the tool.

Along with the release of the app is the opportunity for 250 users to win interactive Lionfish Control Team T-shirts. The logos on the shirts are designed to come to life on your smartphone. The shirts will go to the first 250 people to successfully report lionfish catches or sightings.

You don’t have to have the app to report lionfish catches or sightings. They can also be submitted online at MyFWC.com/Lionfish by clicking on “Report Lionfish.”

For the uninitiated the Report Florida Lionfish app includes educational information on lionfish and safe handling guidelines. It provides an easy-to-use data-reporting form so divers and anglers can share information about their sighting or harvest with the FWC.

If users take and share a photo of their catch it will help stock a database of photos to be used in future publications or social media posts to heighten the awareness of the lionfish problem.

Data collected through the app will help identify sites where targeted lionfish removal might be most beneficial. All data will be available to the public and shared with other groups and agencies collecting this kind of information.

Recent improvements to the app include allowing users to submit sightings or harvest using a photograph that is already on their smart device and adding fields for smallest and largest catch.

To learn more about the new app, T-shirt and interactive logo, view the video accompanying this story.

FWC reports that these shirts will also be given out at various lionfish-related events, such as derbies, across the state.

You can visit MyFWC.com/Nonnatives and click on “Marine Life” to learn more.

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