Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2023

Document Type

Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Marine Science


Environmental and Ocean Sciences


Dr Michel Boudrias


Lionfish (Pterois sp.) are invasive species capable of devastating coral reef ecosystems due to their lack of predators, large appetites, generalist diet, high fecundity, and rapid spawning rates. As lionfish have expanded their distribution across the Caribbean, many conservation groups have taken it upon themselves to systematically remove these predators from environments where they are threatening native species. However, few have involved the community the way I observed while interning with the Whale Shark and Oceanic Research Center in Utila, Honduras. Protecting coral reefs is extremely important, especially in small communities like Utila, where the majority of people’s livelihoods depend on diving tourism. In my project, I examined the different steps in the lionfish abatement efforts in Utila, how different community members are involved throughout this process, and what challenges they are facing. This process included educating the public on the negative impacts of these species, certifying divers to hunt them, hunting for the lionfish, and bringing them back to a lab for dissection and data collection. Hunting for conservation allows the community to use the collected fish to create economic opportunities while still helping preserve the reefs. By continuing to increase efforts to educate members of the community and allowing different groups to benefit from increasing lionfish removal efforts, Utila will be able to better control the threat they pose to reefs. Using Utila as a case study, it is my goal that this model of community involvement can be replicated in other tropical regions where lionfish are invasive.