Killer Robots Deployed to Destroy Invasive Lionfish

Nothing Else Has Been Able To Kill This Invasive Ocean Predator As It Lays Waste To the Eastern Seaboard

The latest plan to slow down the onslaught of the voracious Lionfish along the Eastern Seaboard will be unique in that it involves all out techno warfare using underwater killer robots:

Mankind has a long history of introducing invasive species into new environments and then scrambling to make them go away. Sometimes humans even decide to introduce new invasive species to kill off the first invasive species, like a parody of “There was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly” scenario. Often the cure is worse than the disease as unintended consequences cause ecological disasters with no foreseeable resolution.

Soon, we will have a front row seat as human’s deploy underwater drone technology against the latest menace to threaten the Western Hemisphere: the beautiful yet deadly Lionfish.

The Scourge of the Eastern Seaboard: Since the Nineties, the Voracious Lionfish Has Been Laying Waste To the Marine Ecology From Rhode Island To South America

The Indo-Pacific red Lionfish will eat pretty much anything but seems to prefer fish that commercial fishermen rely on such as juvenile grouper, snapper, shrimp and crabs. The Lionfish is a huge threat to the entire Atlantic Coast and Caribbean, but particularly the Florida Keys. Visually, it is one of nature’s masterpieces, but those colorful spikes sticking out from it are poisonous.

For several years, Florida authorities have been hoping to convince tourists to eat lionfish as a means of controlling the apex predators. But there have been challenges. First, about the only way to kill them is with a spear, and even with Lionfish-killing derbies all the rage for a while, the fish remain elusive. And even if you manage to find one and skewer it, cleaning these hip new food sources is time consuming due to the poisonous spikes. That’s because they contain the neurotoxin ciguatera, which can ruin your entire dining experience. So eating Lionfish is the right thing to do to save the reef ecosystem, but it might also mess you up pretty good.

Enter the Lionfish Terminator:

In the absence of any effective solution to the Lionfish challenge, RISE (Robots In Service of the Environment), a newly formed non-profit, has developed a Lionfish Terminator purpose-built ROV robot with but a single mission: destroy all Lionfish. The aquatic drone robots – which are still in development – are designed to electrocute one of the little monsters when it swims between the protruding electrodes. The Lionfish has no natural predators in this Hemisphere, so it has shown no fear of the robotic arms during testing. But remember Mr. Lionfish, there is ultimately only one apex predator on the planet, and we come in many disguises.

The machines will be carried on boats and dropped into the water to begin the hunt. The operator guides the Lionfish Terminator remotely using on board cameras. When the quarry is located, the ROV surrounds the targeted fish and the operator pulls the trigger.

The robots will be able to harvest the zapped Lionfish for food if anyone can be convinced to eat them.

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