Reef Environmental and Education Foundation Capture a Picasso Triggerfish in Florida


The Lagoon Triggerfish, native to the Indo-Pacific. Photo by Andy Dehart.

The Miami Herald just reported that a Lagoon Triggerfish (AKA Picasso Triggerfish) was captured near Fort Lauderdale last month. A team of five volunteer divers from the Reef Environmental and Education Foundation (REEF) tracked and removed the uninvited guest after it was reported by a person snorkeling near Sunrise Boulevard.

The Miami Herald goes on the report that fish is the ninth non-native removed from South Florida waters since REEF and USGS started a program known as “Early Detection/Rapid Response” in 2008.

There are several species of snakes and other animals including lionfish that compete against or prey upon endemic species. Releasing non-native species into the wild can be very disruptive or detrimental to endemic wildlife! Find an aquarium store or public aquarium to take your unwanted fish but do not release them into the wild. A little common sense goes a long way.

Additionally, REEF also reported that an Orangespine Unicornfish (Naso lituratus) was captured in Key Largo last month.

The Orangespine Unicornfish, native to the Indo-Pacific. Photo by Zach Ransom.

The Orangespine Unicornfish, native to the Indo-Pacific. Photo by Zach Ransom.

“The Orangespine Unicornfish is a very common home aquarium fish and although the owners likely thought they were doing the right thing for the animal, they were not aware of the potential negative impact. It is extremely important that no pets are released into the wild.” acknowledges Andy Dehart, Vice President of Animal Husbandry for Frost Science.

Just a few weeks after the Orangespine Unicornfish was successfully captured, REEF received a report of the Lagoon Triggerfish in Fort Lauderdale. Recognizing the fish was not native to Florida waters, the citizen scientist who spotted the fish reported this sighting to REEF and a plan to remove the fish was put into motion. It took six divers from REEF and Frost Science two trips to live-capture the elusive fish. This was the second record of the Lagoon Triggerfish in the United States mainland.

To date there have been 37 non-native marine fish species documented off of Florida, and most of those sightings are thought to be aquarium fish that were released into the ocean by humans – the same occurrence that started the lionfish invasion of the tropical western Atlantic.

To read the full Miami Herald article please visit this link.


About Author

Scott Groseclose is the owner of AquaNerd, Aquarium Specialty, Aqua Specialty Wholesale, BioTek Marine, & The Carolina Reef Experience. He has a degree in Biology from St. Andrews University and he has been a passionate reef keeper since 1988.