Lionfish distribution in the eastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey

Lionfish distribution in the eastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey

Elif Özgür Özbek, Sinan Mavruk, İsmet Saygu, Bayram Öztürk

Turkish Marine Research Foundation (TUDAV), P.O. Box: 10, Beykoz, Istanbul, TURKEY
Faculty of Fisheries, Çukurova University, Balcalı Campus, Sarıçam/Adana, 01330, TURKEY

Abstract

This study presents the results of the interviews with the fishermen, sightings records in the newspapers and electronic social networks and the details of eight sampled individuals of the lionfish, Pterois sp. in the eastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey. It is evident that the lionfish has established in the eastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey. However, there is still a lack of information about its abundance. The total length (TL) of the eight individuals was 8.5-29.3 cm and the wet-weight 7.09-398.77 g, that were sampled in nine SCUBA dives at 10-15 m depths between 20.01.2017 and 10.02.2017 in Kemer, Antalya. One of the large specimens was a male (29.3 cm TL) and the other was a female (28.6 cm TL) and the rest were juveniles. The stomachs of four individuals were empty; however, identifiable parts of Mullus surmuletus, an individual of Gobiidae sp., unidentifiable parts of a Teleost fish and an undistinguished content were found in the stomachs of the other four individuals. A total of twenty sightings were recorded in the newspapers and electronic social networks in the eastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey between 15.07.2014 and 17.01.2017, apart from the scientific records, and fifteen of them were evidenced by photo and video. The interviews showed that lionfish was not well-known by the fishermen around the Gulf of Iskenderun yet. The public perception about the lionfish is highly variable in Turkey, and this may affect our understanding of the rate of invasion.

Keywords: Invasive alien species, interview, sighting records, sampling, eradication