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Aquarium workers collect invasive lionfish

From the StarNewsOnline

By
Kate.Queram@StarNewsOnline.com

Spiny, striped lionfish are swimming at aquariums in Connecticut, South Carolina and Pine Knoll Shores thanks to staff from the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher, who caught several dozen of the invasive species on two diving trips last month and transported them to other facilities.

“We collected about 48 of them so far this summer,” said Hap Fatzinger, the aquarium’s curator. “There were requests from other facilities that wanted to display Atlantic lionfish, so during dives we made for other animals, we went ahead and grabbed some lionfish as well.”

The lionfish, a spiny, brown-and-white striped animal native to the South Pacific and Indian oceans, has been present in North Carolina waters since at least the early 2000s. While visually stunning, the invasive species is a prolific breeder and a voracious eater that can quickly and easily thin populations of native fish. Lionfish are covered in venomous spikes and thus have very few predators in Carolina waters, which can make it difficult to control their population sprawl.

Snagging a few dozen fish for aquarium displays doesn’t make a dent in those numbers, according to Fatzinger. The only thing that’s proved effective in thinning lionfish populations off the North Carolina coast is cold weather.

“There are some temperature restrictions on them,” Fatzinger said. “The 100-foot water depth is kind of the standard. We might find them in more shallow water in the summer, but we know they persist at greater depths all year.”

Because of their spikes, capturing lionfish is a precarious process. Aquarium staff snag the fish in vinyl nets and transfer them to 5-gallon buckets without touching their bodies, but once the buckets are brought to the surface, avoiding contact becomes more difficult.

Read the rest of the story, along with photos, at StarNewsOnline.

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Students scour lake for invasive plants

From the Salisbury Post (North Carolina)

The Rowan-Salisbury Schools’ white activity bus fit nicely into an empty parking spot at the Flat Creek boat access on the Rowan County side of the Tuckertown Reservoir. The bus seemed out of place flanked by various makes and models of pickups and empty boat trailers. On any given day, the conversations heard around this and similar boat ramps would include the words monofilament, soft body plastics, buzz bait and most likely the phrase “pack of nabs.” However, the 13 Novant Health STEM scholars from Knox Middle School that disembarked from the bus last Wednesday were chattering about macro invertebrates, water quality, biological surveys and invasive exotic aquatic plant life.

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Integrated Pest Management training offered for broad range of professionals

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will conduct Integrated Pest Management training for college and university personnel as well as pest management professionals, City, County and State Health Inspectors, Sanitarians and other environmental health professionals on August 6-7, 2014 in College Station at the Facility Services Building on the Texas A&M University campus.

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Survey shows continued honey bee colony loss in Virginia

From Southeast Farm Press

Over last winter (between October 2013 and April 2014), 32.8 percent of managed honey bee colonies in Virginia died, according to the 8th annual  national survey of honey bee colony losses conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP).

This is higher than the national loss rate of 23.2 percent during the same period, but lower than Virginia’s previous winter loss of 44.6 percent over the winter of 2012-2013.

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Southern corn rust infestations higher in North Carolina this year

From Southeast Farm Press

A combination of wet weather in early July and cooler than normal temperatures in the middle of the month has worked to increase the level of Southern corn rust in North Carolina.

The disease was reported in mid-July in in at least 10 North Carolina counties – Beaufort, Craven, Greene, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Pamlico, Tyrrell, Wayne and Wilson.

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