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The Lionfish Project

This Invasive Predator From The Pacific Is Rapidly Destroying Our Reefs


Our Reefs In Peril

Less obvious, but very real, is the threat that lionfish pose to the reef itself. Reefs are already under threat from climate change and ocean acidification. As the lionfish devour herbivores, such as wrasse, the corals become vulnerable to algae overgrowth and eventually are smothered and die.

With no natural predators and a destructive population that is expanding exponentially, this is a problem that demands immediate intervention.

Difficulties Faced By Divers Hunting Lionfish

There are many challenges that make robots the perfect solution for this environmental crisis in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean. No type of fishing, trapping, or netting has proven to be effective against the lionfish, especially without creating further damage to reefs and desired species.

The numbers of lionfish found in deeper water, sometimes in large colonies, is staggering. Sadly, sport divers are very limited in the areas where they go with sufficient frequency and in sufficient numbers to have a meaningful impact. Sport divers can only effectively hunt lionfish to depths down to 80 feet, and usually do not travel far from shore.

Robots Rise To The Challenge

An undersea robot will enable the capture of lionfish from areas not easily reachable by people.

On April 19, 2017, RSE traveled to Bermuda to unveil a functional design prototype of an affordable robot that enables the capture of lionfish below depths reachable by sport divers, where the population expands unchecked. At the same time, RSE launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the final development of the robot as well as resources to bring it to market in scale.

RSE also participated in the 11th Hour Racing #EatLionfish Chefs' Throwdown at the National Museum of Bermuda. In addition to robotics, the Throwdown featured six celebrity chefs representing the six nations and teams competing in the America’s Cup - with Rob Ruiz as executive chef. They served up lionfish delicacies as a sustainable and delectable seafood choice.