Students meet with FWC biologist about lionfish concerns

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Students at Covenant Christian School in Panama City are doing their part to help control an invasive species in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

They talked with a biologist from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Thursday about growing lionfish concerns.

"Traps and other remote operated vehicles that are outfitted with different types of capture mechanisms are proving to be more effective than divers," Hanna Tillotson, a biological specialist with the FWC said. "There's still a lot of testing that needs to be done in deeper water. Some of the shallower water testing has been proving it's been effective."

Biology students made a taco trap. That is, it looks like a taco when it closes.

"The trap we have designed is cost-effective and it's efficient in terms of catching lionfish," Dalton Claghorn, a Junior at the school said. "So our goal was to just try to spread the news. We think that if everyone is informed of how big of a problem lionfish actually are, that more will be done to try to prevent them from invading the coast."

Claghorn said they place those traps near artificial reefs for a few weeks, and pretty soon the lionfish make it their home.