Local News

Nov 4, 2013 12:15 AM by Meteorologist Aaron Blaser

Gulf of Mexico Scientists Meet to Share Research, Concerns

CORPUS CHRISTI- A group of scientists from Mexico, the U.S. and Cuba met today at the Harte Research Institute on the campus of Texas A@M-Corpus Christi to share their research on marine life in the gulf.

One of the main topics is the rapid spread of Lionfish, an invasive species from the Pacific that was introduced into the Florida waters in the 1980's, but now has spread all around the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.
The fish was recently spotted in the Packery Channel, the first documented sighting of the fish in this part of the Gulf.

Dr. Wes Tunnel from the Harte Research Institute says this recent sighting is a big concern, "It's a voracious predator and it feeds upon coral reef fish, and so its possibly effecting the coral reef ecosystem and so we need to study that."

One problem the scientists face is a lack of communication with the three countries, especially from Cuba, where a 60-year old embargo with the United States has slowed down their efforts on marine research, which needs to be shared collectively.
"We're all at risk because there's so much biologically in terms of shared shrimp, shared fish, sea turtles, migratory birds and we're not understanding enough about the populations on both sides of the Florida straits.", says Fernando Bretos Trelles, the Director of the Cuba Marine Research and Conservation Program.

He says that the Cuban scientists weren't able to attend the group's last conference in the U.S. because they weren't able to get visas granted by the U.S. government.

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