[slideshow] The Lionfish Research and Education Program (LREP) at CEI has already had an exciting start to 2012! Last year, research efforts were focused on a lionfish removal study to document changes in native species at reefs where lionfish densities were regularly controlled. This year officially marks the end of that study…now it’s time to answer new questions! LREP research will focus on addressing questions associated with lionfish recolonization. Understanding rates as well as biological and physical factors that influence where lionfish recolonize can help support best management strategies for the Bahamas and the surround invaded region.

This month, LREP also got an opportunity to work with CEI’s Educational Programs. As part of a January term course, ten high school students from the Maine School of Science and Mathematics (MSSM) made their way to the Cape – a trip that marked the second annual visit for MSSM! In just two weeks, the students helped design a mini research project, collect data and present their results. Jumping into the project (and quite literally!) feet first - students snorkeled local reefs to observe just how invasive the lionfish are and got a real hands-on experience performing dissections on lionfish that had been removed from research sites. Not only did they leave with a newfound knowledge of invasive lionfish and appreciation for reef conservation, but they also left as expert lionfish dissectors! We hope to see another group back next year!