Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's Evolution Baby!

Lee sent this along to me, and I thought I'd share. It's famed evolutionary ecologist Richard Dawkins reading the hate mail he gets from Creationists. This clip's audio straddles the line between Safe for Work and Not Safe for Work, so I'd turn the speakers down a bit before viewing.

It blows my mind that people could not realize evolution to be the truth. If the Catholic Church can reconcile evolution with faith why can't these people?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Day Hike: Shadmoor State Park

Living inside of the densely populated New York Metro region it can be hard to remember that beautiful pristine environments to be enjoyed are only a short trip away.
One such location is Shadmoor State Park in Montauk, NY. Shadmoor was recently acquired by a joint effort of the Nature Conservancy, New York State Department of Parks and Recreation and East Hampton Town, the details of which are summed up well in this New York Times article. Despite offering amazing views and great natural scenery, there isn’t much out on the internet about Shadmoor, so I wanted to take a moment and offer a bit of commentary.

How to Get There
Shadmoor is less than half a mile east of Montauk Village on the east end of the south fork of Long Island. Montauk is serviced infrequently by the LIRR, and it is possible to walk from the Montauk train station to Shadmoor. Bicyclers are very common out on the east end and the terrain relatively flat. The easiest way to get there however is by car. Take Rt. 27 east from Montauk Village, there is a parking lot a little less than half a mile out of Montauk, that serves as a trail head to Shadmoor’s trails.

Little Bit of History

The grounds of Shadmoor State Park have served two major purposes. The first is as Camp Wikoff, the landing place and quarantine for Theodore Roosevelt and his soldiers as they returned from the Spanish American War. The second major use of the land is as an observation point and coastal defense bunker during World War II. These bunkers still exist on the premises and trails lead directly to the bunkers for up close inspection.


  • Bring sunscreen. The landscape is covered with barrier island type vegetation, as such there is a dearth of trees, and virtually no shade during the middle of the day.

  • Go to the bathroom before you enter the park. The park has no infrastructure other than trails, trail markers and a few signs. Hit the head in Montauk before venturing to the park.

  • Bring a blanket for a picnic. The park offers truly amazing vistas of the ocean and surrounding lands. Bring a blanket, pack a lunch and make an afternoon of it.

Park Features
Day Hikers Delight
The park, although small in size, offers over 3 miles of hikes. We covered most of the park and sat down for a lovely picnic lunch in just over 2 hours. It’s a great stop on your way east to the lighthouse, but not enough to fill up your day.

The hikes are very easy, although there is are quite a number of small hills and ridges to cover. There is no shade from the sun, so you do tend to get warm quickly. As you get nearer to the ocean refreshing ocean breezes act to cool you off.

Hypothetically you can get down to the beach via a series of staircases. We did not find said staircases, and they are not located on the map at the trailhead. We did see folks hiking down with surfboards and later saw them on the beach, so it is indeed possible to do so!


The vegetation you view is very different than that one might observe in a deciduous or coniferous forest. The New York State Parks website says there are black cherry trees and the endangered species gerardia in the park. Being not a botanist, I can’t tell you what was there – but it was enjoyable to inspect such unique plants.


The World War II bunker relics are a neat look at history. World War II is fading in prominence in American memory, partly due to the fact that the war took place mainly on foreign ground. The bunkers right here in the backyard bring the war home to a certain extent. This article from Newsday reports that the bunkers were built to look like cottages from the water, and I have to say it’s true, it doesn’t feel like you are in the midst of the military-industrial complex while you are in the park.


The parks most attractive feature by far is the amazing bluffs that the trails end at. The park is home to Long Islands highest bluffs, and it’s possible to walk right up to the edge and take a peek! The views are stunning, the pictures presented here don’t to the park justice.

In Conclusion
The park is definitely worth a stop if you are in the area. However it’s small size prevents it from being a destination in and of itself. As part of a tour of the east end, perhaps on bicycle, it is however highly recommended.

And, don't forget the picnic!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hot topics

My folder of articles that I wanted to talk about is filling up much quicker than I can blog! So here, presented without comment are a number of news stories that you guys might find interesting (and also a picture of a wildflower from Shadmoor State Park taken yesterday).

It’s hard to believe but there are folks out there who don’t consider evolution to be valid science theory. Here’s the story of one teacher’s quest to address that.

Thomas Friedman wrote about John McCain’s energy policy earlier this week in the Times.

A story detailing how anoxic regions, or lifeless bodies of water where oxygen levels are near zero, have been increasing globally in recent years.

A U.S. Court of Appeals dealt a major blow to the Bush administration’s policies regarding their regulation or perhaps more accurately de-regulation of the Clean Air Act.

Stories like these will become more common as humans continue to push into regions that were previously wild.

And lastly, check out John Carroll’s photo-journal detailing his great research work on scallops in the Peconics.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Update on the Press Conference

The report from the press conference in Southampton is in from our crack correspondent Champ Kind…er….John Carroll. Here are some highlights:

  • Amongst others, in attendance were Congressman Tim Bishop (D, NY-1), State Assemblyman Fred Thiele and University President “Don’t Call Me” Shirley Strum-Kinney.

  • New conference was covered by local television outlets; News 12 Long Island, and Channel 55 out of Riverhead.

  • Announced publicly the $3.7 million dollar Institute for Ocean Conservation.

  • The institutes first project will be working on “forage fish fisheries” including anchovies, silversides and bunker amongst others.

  • State Assemblyman Fred Thiele announced nearly $7 million in state funding to build a state of the art new marine station at Stony Brook – Southampton.

  • Dr. Chris Gobler of SoMAS was recognized by Congressman Tim Bishop for his outstanding research on local issues.

  • A tour of Shinnecock Bay was given to the dignitaries in attendance by SoMAS graduate students.

John also noted that the press conference was well attended and that there was delicious finger food available for lunch (which made me kick myself for not attending). By his description its possible that more Southampton T-shirts were worn today than in the past 3 months combined...

Thanks John for the coverage…

Alternative and Renewable Energies

Back at blogcentral today, working very hard on producing some utterly useless data (shown above). So far the past two days, 14 hours in the lab, zero chucks of useful data. I am told this is how the isotope cookie crumbles on a daily basis, so I had better get used to it.

Anyway, I wanted to discuss what exactly “alternative energy” and “renewable energy” means because I think the media often muddles the two expressions, and the definition is lost in the resulting fracas.

An alternative energy source is one that comes from a non-fossil fuel source.

A renewable energy source is one that the fuel or energy source is rejuvenated quicker by natural processes than we consume the fuel.

Let’s look at a few examples of energy sources and try to categorize them in terms of the definitions above.


Alternative: Coal is not an alternative fuel, as it is a fossil fuel.
Renewable: Coal is not renewable. Even though it is slowly regenerated, it is produced on a timescale much slower than we consume it.
Environmental Impact: Coal burning is a leading cause of emission of carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen bearing compounds to the atmosphere. The process of mining coal is also quite damaging to the environment, and generally to human health.

Natural Gas and Oil

Alternative: Natural gas and oil are not an alternative fuels, as they are fossil fuel.
Renewable: Natural gas and oil are not renewable.
Environmental Impact: Natural gas burning and oil consumption are the leading cause of emission of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Burning of natural gas and oil produces also generally produces volatile organic compounds and releases nitrogen oxides to the atmosphere. The process of extraction is damaging to the environment, and is expected to become moreso when we extracting oil shale and tar for oil.

Nuclear Energy

Alternative: Nuclear energy is an alternative fuel since it does not consume fossil fuels.
Renewable: Nuclear energy is not renewable. Uranium and plutonium ore are a limited resource.
Environmental Impact: Nuclear waste is an obvious concern. Retrieval of uranium and plutonium for refinement by means of strip mining can be quite damaging to the environment. Accidental releases, contrary to public opinion, from nuclear power plants are not a legitimate concern given significant advances in nuclear technology over the past 30 to 40 years.


Alternative: Biofuels are alternative fuels as they are not fossil fuel derived. Ethanol produced from corn should be considered a fossil fuel as significant quantities of fossil fuels are required to produce it.
Renewable: The major draw of biofuels is that is renewable. To be truly renewable in the long run, sustainable farming practices must be developed.
Environmental Impact: Varies strongly from biofuel to biofuel. Biofuels include wood, ethanol from corn or sugarcane, manure and vegetable oils. Some are relatively low impact, others like corn based ethanol are environmentally irresponsible and cause significant harm.


Alternative: Yes. Solar power is an alternative to fossil fuel.
Renewable: Yes. So long as there is a sun, we have solar power available.
Environmental Impact: The major challenge with solar power is improving the technology of converting sunlight to useable energy. Short of conversion of natural terrain to solar farms, the impacts of solar technology on the environment is minimal.


Alternative: Yes. Hydro-electric is an alternative to fossil fuel.
Renewable: Yes. So long as there is a rain and the tides, hydro-electric power available.
Environmental Impact: Varies from application to application. The use of hydro-electric dams can impact rivers and lakes. The use of tidal dams or tidal turbines is somewhat less damaging.


Alternative: Yes. Wind is an alternative to fossil fuel.
Renewable: Yes. So long as there is a sun creating heating thermal imbalances on the Earth, we have wind power available.
Environmental Impact: Wind power is the most promising alternative energy source because wind is abundant and cheap. The challenge is placing wind turbines in the appropriate location. Chris J brought up some interesting thoughts regarding the viability of wind turbines in an urban environment that I will address in a future post.

Hopefully that clears up the difference between an alternative energy source and a renewable energy source. Next time we’ll pick up with alternative energy production in urban in the New York environment. We’ll try to tackle the question, what are the challenges and opportunities associated with each type of energy?

Breaking News: Institute for Ocean Conservation to be formed in Stony Brook


Metro Environmental Blog has learned that within the hour, at approximately 11:15 am the Pew Charitable Trust in conjunction with Stony Brook University will form the Institute for Ocean Conservation at Stony Brook University. Details are still forthcoming and will be announced at the Marine Station at Southampton later today. What is known is that a large number of staff members from the Pew Ocean Institute at the University of Miami in Florida are moving north to join the faculty and staff at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at Stony Brook University. The Pew Charitable Trust will contribute $3.7 million to help start the institute.

I am cautiously optimistic about this new institute. The Pew Charitable Trust has a history of funding non-biased, non-partisan research projects covering a variety of social and scientific issues. Hopefully the Institute for Ocean Conservation will continue this proud tradition and produce research results and conduct scientific outreach which helps shape US environmental policy in a positive way.

This move has potential huge positive implications for the New York Metro Region. This institute may direct money to studying local water bodies, and the results may help decision makers to make good decisions. This new institute may result in increased cooperation between local regulatory agencies and not-for-profit research groups. And lastly this institute will likely increase funds available to regional universities to conduct groundbreaking research.

Metro Environmental Blog has correspondent John Carroll on the scene and updates will be posted as soon as they are made available.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

New York: Alternative Energy Capital of the World?

Great article in the New York Times yesterday about how New York City aims to provide renewable energy to the city in the next few years.

In a plan that would drastically remake New York City’s skyline and shores, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is seeking to put wind turbines on the city’s bridges and skyscrapers and in its waters as part of a wide-ranging push to develop renewable energy.


“When it comes to producing clean power, we’re determined to make New York the No. 1 city in the nation,” Mr. Bloomberg said as he outlined his plans in a speech Tuesday night in Las Vegas, where a major conference on alternative energy is under way.

Sounds good. My initial response to this news is that even though this plan may never see the light of day, it’s great that New Yorkers are hearing that alternative energies can be generated in their backyards. It’s important that New Yorkers put their money where their mouth is, and try to develop energy sources locally, rather than importing energy from California and Arizona. Mayor Bloomberg agrees:

“In New York,” he said in his speech, “we don’t think of alternative power as something that we just import from other parts of the nation.”

Oh but Mr. Bloomberg good sir, I’m afraid we do. A similar project, although smaller in scope, was proposed off the south shore of Long Island. It was rejected handily by Long Islanders mostly due to cost considerations (i.e. it would be really expensive per watt of energy produced), but there was also sizeable objections to obscurations to the view off of Jones Beach.

So what makes the mayor so confident that building wind turbines off of Queens and on top of the George Washington Bridge will not face similar challenges?

Rohit Aggarwala, the director of the city’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, said that turbines on buildings would likely be much smaller than offshore ones. Several companies are experimenting with models that look like eggbeaters, which the Bloomberg administration says could be integrated into the spires atop the city’s tall buildings. “”You can make them so small that people think they are part of the design,” Mr. Aggarwala said.
“If rooftop wind can make it anywhere, this is a great city,” he said. “We have a lot of tall buildings.”

Well it’s a start I guess. Certainly less visible turbines would be easier for New Yorkers. who are quite proud of their skyline, to accept.

But if New York State has any source of alternative energies, it is wind power. As the figure above shows, the waters off of Long Island and Lake Ontario are considered to be near the highest classification of wind power. Likewise on shore, the Southern Tier, Tug Hill Plateau and nearly all lands downwind of the Great Lakes are good spots for wind turbines as well (not shown).

Contrast that with solar energy. As you can tell from this figure (taken from this fantastic textbook by Botkin and Keller), New York State as a whole ranks very poor in terms of potential solar energy. Of course any one who’s lived here for a winter could tell you that just as easily without a fancy picture -- but none the less solar energy as a future power source in New York will be dependent upon technological advances.

New York City has long done well in thinking ahead of environmental problems and Bloomberg’s administration has been no exception (in fact Mayor Bloomberg has espoused some rather progressive environmental views, at other points during his tenure.). New York City has adopted an aggressive policy of purchasing and preserving land surrounding their extensive reservoir system in an attempt to control water quality. As a result, the city is saving money long term by avoiding the high costs of energy and chemicals for water purification. As an affective bonus this land is preserved from development and adds to the impressive quantity of land preserved in the Catskill State Preserve. But the achievements in the Catskills would be dwarfed by the prospect of the United States largest city developing alternative energies enough to power itself.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Correlations, Shifting Baselines and Lupus

A few quick hits today.

Correlation is NOT Causation

So after winning the softball championship last night the only thing left to do was celebrate. So after the game the team full of scientists and our scientist friends came over to the house and we grilled up plentiful quantities of hot dogs, burgers of all varieties and consumed an equally plentiful quantity of ice cold brews. Needless to say after seeing this news from the New York Times, I’m sure everyone in attendance may have second thoughts on the latter half of our consumption last evening.

The more beer scientists drink, the less likely they are to have a paper published or cited, according to a new study by Thomas Grim, an ornithologist at Palacky University, Czech Republic.
Grim surveyed the behavior of Czech scientists and found a correlation between amount of beer consumed and papers published.

Something that one needs to remind your audience in any publication relying on a correlation study is that correlation is not causation. To anyone who has taken a class in statistics, no doubt the instructor repeated this saying ad nauseum – but it is worth repeating.

The study demonstrates a mathematical relationship between the number of publications a scientist has made and the quantity of beer consumed. The study does not however, explain the “physics” of the problem; do scientists who fail more turn to beer to ease their pain or do scientists who drink more tend to produce lousy results? This study does not answer this question, thus the findings are quite limited.

I have quite a bit of anecdotal evidence that suggest those scientists who enjoy a good brew publish okay in the United States.

Shifting Baselines
Resident zoologist and sole blog reader Mikey P brought up a good point in the comments on Monday:

Did you know that many of today's household pests are invasive or non-endemic species?

From what I remember, these include but are not limited to:
- House Sparrows (among other sparrows)
- Rats (both black and brown rats, aka "roof" rats and Norway rats, respectively)
- Cockroaches (German and American are the most common, non-native)
- Pigeons

Most of these actually came over during colonial periods.

Thanks for the knowledge Mikey! In addition to what Mikey listed, you can consider any wild formerly domesticated animal such as feral cats and wild dogs to be invasive species as well. In fact domesticated cats cause very high mortality in birds in suburban and urban areas.

These species aren't traditionally thought of as non-native, presumably because they've been here so long and that we've either adapted to having them around or are just used to dealing with them in our societal memory.

Societal memory is a serious issue in environmental science. What one generation considers to be “natural” may be radically different from what three generations previously considered “natural” to be. An excellent example of this, and one purported by Daniel Pauley of the University of British Columbia, is how the size of fishes caught by fishermen has changed the way we look at fish.

The image shown above (thanks Lyndie) demonstrates both “societal memory” and “shifting baselines.” In each image the people catching the fish are quite proud of their “large” catch. The difference is that in older days catchers were indeed bigger than they are today. Trends have been observed by fisheries biologists showing that as humans selectively remove the largest of each species, the gene pool of the fish species becomes dominated by smaller sized fish, thus fish shrink.

But the concept of “shifting baselines” applies to more than just fisheries. It applies to what a generation considers to be “virgin forest” or what a generation considers to be “pristine water quality.”

Last Hit
Today’s picture of the day from national geographic is can’t miss:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Climate vs. Weather

I apologize for today’s short post. Today is the Stony Brook University Intramural Softball championship game, and I have to leave the office early to hold down 3rd base. Tomorrow we’ll pick back up with “serious” environmental dialogue and address the insight that this blogs only reader, Mikey P brought to the table.

Weather versus Climate
The most difficult lecture for me to give to the students in my Environmental Problems and Solutions class at Stony Brook Southampton is the lecture on Global Climate. Specifically, trying to explain to the students what the major difference is between weather and climate. Here then are the definitions of climate and weather respectively from the American Heritage Dictionary.

cli•mate n.

1. The meteorological conditions, including temperature, precipitation, and wind, that characteristically prevail in a particular region.
2. A region of the earth having particular meteorological conditions: lives in a cold climate.
3. A prevailing condition or set of attitudes in human affairs: a climate of unrest.

Climate implies a long term series of conditions, the average of which we consider to be the “climate of a region.” It’s also important to consider the expected variability associated with a region, for example in April one could expect a day with a high of 30 or a day with a high of 70, both of which are within normal bounds, neither of which alone truly describe the climate of April.

weath•er n.

1. The state of the atmosphere at a given time and place, with respect to variables such as temperature, moisture, wind velocity, and barometric pressure.
1. Adverse or destructive atmospheric conditions, such as high winds or heavy rain: encountered weather five miles out to sea.
2. The unpleasant or destructive effects of such atmospheric conditions: protected the house from the weather.
3. weathers Changes of fortune: had known him in many weathers.

Weather, the definition implies atmospheric conditions at one time. The weather can vary greatly from one day to the next, whereas the climate should vary only slightly from day to day or even week to week for a region.

Anyway I bring this up because today is a good example of why we need to include a degree of variability when ascribing climate to any region. The weather map below, taken from shows the wide range of temperatures in the Northeastern US today.

Today temperatures range from a very autumnal upper 50’s in the Adirondacks, Green, and White Mountains, to the 60’s across most of Western New York and the Catskills, to the 70’s throughout most of southern New England and the Hudson Valley to more a more “seasonable” lower 80’s in New York City and Long Island. However just to the south in New Jersey and Pennsylvania temperatures are in the 90’s with high humidity – the epitome of an August day along the Eastern US coastline. And of course far to the south Tropical Storm Fay continues to subsume Florida with rain and wind.

Any way, the point of all of this is just to say that when we define climate we need to be careful to include variability in our description. Today’s cool temperatures are part of a “normal” climate for the Northeast – although one may consider this to be somewhat extreme weather. This is a good example that one could use to explain the difference between climate and weather.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Empire State Invasives

Well, blogcentral managed to survive the deluge last Friday relatively unscathed. Today drips of brown water continue to inundate the kitchen area of the lab. I am trying very hard to convince myself that the fetid water is simply laden with rust, but I must admit that my overactive imagination is causing me much concern.

New York State Invasive Species
Anyway, we were chatting about invasive species last Friday, specifically the red lionfish. Sometimes it’s hard to understand the impacts of invasive species until you’ve seen it firsthand in your local environment. So I thought it’d be neat to take a peek at some other invasive species that are impacting the New York Region. The Department of Environmental Conservation lists a number of invasive species that are a major threat to agriculture and the environment in New York State. Today we will focus on three, Zebra Muscles, Chinese Mitten Crabs and Gypsy Moths.

Zebra Muscle

Perhaps the most famous invasive species in New York State, the Zebra Muscle has major impacts on the local ecology as it is able to out-compete native benthic organisms. It also impacts human activities directly by being quite adept at clogging intake pipes for industry, including power plants.

The map shown here courtesy of the USGS shows that Zebra Muscles are present in every major New York State water body from Lake Champlain, to the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, the Erie Canal and the Hudson River.

Chinese Mitten Crab

The DEC states that it is the most recent invasive species to strike the state. It has been spotted primarily in the lower Hudson River, and has slowly been moving northward (reaching as far north as Dutchess County). Chinese Mitten Crabs compete with the endemic Blue Crab, whom may be adversely affected by this invasive species.

The Mitten Crab has long been a problem along the West Coast, more recently it has moved into the Chesapeake and appears to have moved north into New York waters only in past years. The species has been unable to thrive in the St. Lawrence waterway, despite being introduced, but may have more luck in the warmer waters of the Hudson Estuary.

Photo credit:

Gypsy Moths

Yuck. You’ve no doubt seen their rather unattractive nests in trees in your own back yard. The success of this invasive species varies greatly from year to year. Sometimes their presence is not noticeable, other times they decimate the canopy in localized regions.

In addition to the seemingly omni-present Gypsy Moth, New York State has also been stricken with two other species of moths, the Forest Tent Caterpillar and Eastern Tent Caterpillar, both of which have caused major damage to native trees in past years.

Photo credit: USGS,

Other Transport Mechanisms
We had also talked a bit about methods of introduction of invasive species. One I didn’t mention, but that is getting a lot of attention in New York State is the transport of firewood. Wood is home to many species of burrowing insects. When transported from region to region, we may accidentally be transporting non-native species and introducing them to new habitats, where they may negatively affect local tree populations. Many tree species aren’t able to adapt quickly enough to fight off infestation with recently introduced insects. Many formerly common tree species in New York such as the American Chestnut and the White Birch have in recent years been decimated by invasive species.

In New York State a major concern is transport of insects in firewood into the Catskill and Adirondack State Parks. Many campers bring with them firewood from home, and in the process may be rapidly spreading these invasive bugs.

Here is the Department of Environmental Conservation’s poster asking people to take care with their firewood:

Friday, August 15, 2008

Red Lionfish Invasion!

It’s raining so hard here at blogcentral, that the roof is leaking. While a few drops of water may not mean a lot to most, when you are working in a room with machines using tens of thousands of volts of electricity, this becomes a real threat. Thus, this first post may be our last.


I read an interesting article by Daniel McFadden of the Associated Press earlier this week about invasive species in the Gulf of Mexico. I think invasive species is an extremely ambiguous term that no doubt is confusing to many, and it’s worth clarifying our terminology before moving onward.

An invasive species, is by most definitions, a species that is not native to its current habitat that is some how harmful to the habitat it has come to reside in. By not native we mean that it is not traditionally found in its new ecosystem, and has by some manner only recently arrived. Today when we talk about invasive species we most often mean introduced species, and that is to say species that we as humans moved into their new habitats.

There are a number of invasive species that are likely familiar to Americans including zebra muscles in the Great Lakes, “flying” carp in the Misssissippi River and Kudzu in the Southeastern United States. The focus of the quoted article, the red lionfish, is looking likely to become a prime example of invasive species in a major vacation hotspot, the Caribbean.

Introduction of new marine species by humans can be done in a number of ways, most often by maritime vessels releasing ballast water. Ballast water in water that ships take in at one location to stabilize the vessel, and often release it far away areas where they are docking. This ballast water often contains fish and other aquatic animals larvae and eggs that may not be native to a region.

Other major methods of introduction of invasive species include accidental transport on ships and airplanes, and intentional transport of species for domestication or for pleasure viewing (e.g. zoos and aquariums).

Today’s example of an invasive species was transported by way of pleasure viewing.

“The red lionfish, a tropical native of the Indian and Pacific oceans that probably escaped from a Florida fish tank, is showing up everywhere - from the coasts of Cuba and Hispaniola to Little Cayman's pristine Bloody Bay Wall, one of the region's prime destinations for divers.”


”Researchers believe lionfish were introduced into the Atlantic in 1992, when Hurricane Andrew shattered a private aquarium and six of them spilled into Miami's Biscayne Bay, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.”


The lionfish in coral reef ecosystems represents a perfect storm. The lionfish is an aggressive animal that is able to out-compete native species. The lionfish is a voracious consumer of native species. And lastly, the lionfish has been introduced to an ecosystem that already under a great deal of stress.

Lionfish are likely to get a lot of attention in the upcoming years because they are both visible to tourists and somewhat hazardous to swimmers. But the real threat they pose is in terms of damage to the already fragile ecosystem they are invading.

“Wherever it appears, the adaptable predator corners fish and crustaceans up to half its size with its billowy fins and sucks them down in one violent gulp.
Research teams observed one lionfish eating 20 small fish in less than 30 minutes.
This may very well become the most devastating marine invasion in history," said Mark Hixon, an Oregon State University marine ecology expert who compared lionfish to a plague of locusts. "There is probably no way to stop the invasion completely."

In addition to its voracious appetite, the fish has shown a surprisingly large range for a tropical fish, being spotted as far north as Rhode Island. According to my diving buddies, they have been seen in the waters of the south shore of Long Island as well.

The red lionfish represents a real challenge to marine planners trying to manage the delicate coral reefs. The effects of this species will be felt over a large latitude range from the Caribbean all the way into the Northeastern United States. Of course, this is only one of the many many species we have introduced and are in some way responsible for.