Flower Gardens Invitational Expedition

Texas Lionfish Control Unit will again lead two expeditions of trained scientists and volunteer divers to the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in 2019.  These 4-day research expeditions, in partnership with NOAA-Flower Garden Banks, Ripley’s Aquarium, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and M/V Fling will remove lionfish from the sanctuary and gather scientific data for lionfish research. Our 2018 Expedition season was very successful with both trips going out. We had a record catch on the August trip with 809 lionfish removed, and a Texas state record lionfish brought in.  We look forward to this year and more successful expeditions! If you or your organization would like to sponsor the expedition, please contact us at brady@texaslionfish.org

2019 Lionfish Invitational Expedition Dates

June 9-13, 2019

August 25-29, 2019

The expeditions will have the following goals and objectives:

  • Conduct research to increase the knowledge of invasive lionfish distribution and predator/prey relationships in coral communities at the FGBNMS.
  • Reduce the impact of lionfish on reef habitats and native fish populations by removing lionfish from the upper-100 feet of the FGBNMS.
  • Assess effectiveness of diver removal effort on lionfish populations and native fish communities.
  • Increase public awareness of invasive lionfish impacts and provide the knowledge and skills for individuals to be part of the solution by training volunteer divers from the local community in safe and effective collection and handling techniques.

To be eligible, divers must meet the following:

  •  be at least 18 years of age
  • be able to swim
  • be a certified advanced open water scuba diver, or higher certification (must present a valid Diver Certification Card)
  • be a Nitrox certified diver
  • have conducted a minimum of 25 dives in the past 12 months; or provide the total number of dives logged since becoming a diver
  • have DAN or other dive-specific insurance
  • be able to identify reef fish at the Flower Garden Banks and conduct in-water fish surveys; and
  • have experience collecting lionfish (Check out our Eco-Tourism trips to gain lionfish hunting skills)

Expedition participation is by invitation only.  Qualified divers may apply to be a part of the Flower Garden Banks Lionfish Invitational Expedition.

Divers will be required to:

  • travel to and from Freeport, TX
  • attend the TLCU/NOAA lionfish handling course to be held at 5PM in Freeport on the Sunday before leaving the dock.
  • room with other divers in bunk style accommodations;
  • scuba dive at the FGBNMS;
  • conduct themselves in a responsible manner as volunteers representing TLCU and the FGBNMS
  • practice safe diving techniques
  • remove only lionfish with approved pole spears
  • assist with fish surveys, lionfish processing and dissections
  • complete and sign all applications, liability waivers and releases

To apply as a researcher or volunteer diver:

Applications for the 2019 expedition season have currently closed.  Please read the information above, to ensure you are qualified Further instructions are given in the application. Feel free to fill out the notification form above to be notified of the 2020 expedition season dates and application openings. 

Texas Lionfish Control Unit members will be given first notice. Consider becoming a member of Texas Lionfish Control Unit today!