MBARA to begin 2014 survey dives

Published: Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 01:42 PM.

Cox and his crew take note of the many types of fish that inhabit each reef, providing the counts to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF).

Additionally, divers document marine life growing on the reefs and often consult video to catch fish that may have escaped the naked eye.

FWC provides updated information on all reefs online and the information is regularly used by fisherman, schools and biologists.

In 2013 the MBARA was able to visit 66 reefs and the 2014 surveys will kick off as soon as the water has warmed up.

Cox said that these dives also allow him to monitor the spread of lionfish in the Gulf waters.

“We analyze stomach contents to determine what native species are most vulnerable to the invasive lionfish in our local waters,” said Cox. “There weren’t any lionfish here a few years ago, but their numbers are growing.

“These days, it’s rare not to find lionfish in water deeper than 60 feet.”

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