Stopping invasive lionfish? There's an app for that.

Florida has a new smartphone app that helps people gather data on sightings of lionfish, an invasive, venomous, spiky fish that is threatening local ecosystems.

David J. Phillip/AP/File
A lionfish swims near coral off the Caribbean island of Bonaire, in May 2012. Florida has unveiled a new phone app to help gather data about the invasive species.

Florida has a new phone app to help cull the invasion of its waters by the spiked lionfish, a venomous species that is devouring other fish and harming reef ecosystems.

The state is home to more than 500 non-native species, but few as rampant in the wild as the marauding lionfish, which is fast-reproducing and has a voracious appetite. It preys on native fish such as yellowtail snapper, Nassau grouper and banded coral shrimp, and other crustaceans.

"The lionfish has no known natural predators in the Atlantic ... and the ability to spawn year-round," according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

With zebra-like stripes of red, brown and cream, they are native to the tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans. Since their first sighting off Florida's Atlantic coast 25 years ago, the banded lionfish population has increased rapidly, according to the wildlife agency.

Popular aquarium fish, they have spread from Florida to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and to the Bahamas.

The Report Florida Lionfish app is designed to help the state collect data and raise awareness of the danger of invasive species, while encouraging people to report sightings so the fish can be removed from the state's waterways, says Amanda Nalley of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The first 250 successful users of the app will get a free Lionfish Control Team T-shirt with an inter-active logo which, via the free Aurasma app, can display a lionfish video.

Those who have no smart devices can report lionfish at Officials warn the lionfish spikes can deliver a painful, though non-fatal, sting to humans.

State wildlife officials have also invited public participation in the fight against other invasive species. A state-sponsored Burmese python hunt in the Florida Everglades in January 2013 helped collect data, raise awareness and remove some of the giant snakes there.

(Editing by David Adams and Gunna Dickson)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to