Scuba Diver Discovers Airplane and Haven for Lionfish

Randy Jordan, owner of Emerald Charters in Jupiter, Florida, discovered quite a treasure on a recent dive.

“We get down to the bottom and I see some fish that are swimming over to the right and I followed them,” said Jordan.  “They swam right up to this airplane. It was the most amazing thing.”  Right in front of them, Jordan said, were the remains of an aircraft.  “When you backed up, you said ‘that’s an airplane,’ ” he said…Jordan sent his images to the Warbird Information Exchange , an online source for historical aviation information.  Experts there told Jordan that the submerged aircraft could be a Curtiss Helldiver SBC2.  Some of those airplanes flew in the early 1940s during World War II.

Now that you watched the video once. Watch it again, but this time take notice of tremendous numbers of lionfish.  Note lionfish are native to the waters of the Indo-Pacific.  Over the last two decades they have invaded the eastern U.S. Coast and the Caribbean. I have personally witnessed them on dives from North Carolina to Belize.  The when, where, and how of this lionfish invasion remains somewhat of a mystery. Lore based on second knowledge has it placed to the Florida coast when in 1992 Hurricane Andrew destroyed an aquarium.  Later that year, six lionfish were potentially accidentally released in Biscayne Bay. But NOAA ecologist James Morris found documentation of them off the Florida coast in 1985, most likely dumped by an owner who had lost interest. Earlier this year, I edited a paper for the Journal of Biogeography by Ricardo and colleagues examining the genetics of invasive lionfish.  Their paper adds another piece to the overall puzzle suggesting that DNA evidence ties the expansion of lionfish throughout the Caribbean to a single invasion event as opposed to multiple introductions.

The video above is extremely alarming for the density for lionfish at a single location.  Hat tip to Aeolius for a link to the video and article.  Put your total counts of lionfish in the video below.


Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

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