Share story

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida wildlife officials are awarding $250,000 to five organizations to research new ways to remove invasive lionfish from deep-water habitats.

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission news release says $50,000 each is going to the University of Florida, Reef Environmental Education Foundation, American Marine Research Company, R3 Digital Sciences and Atlantic Lionshare Ltd. The contracts run through next June.

Lionfish face few natural predators in U.S. waters, where they eat native fish important to maintaining healthy reefs and compete with native predators for food.

The Florida diving community uses spearfishing gear to control their populations in shallow waters, but lionfish can be found as deep as 1,000 feet (300 meters), far beyond recreational dive limits of 130 feet (40 meters).