The Lionfish Invasion
Pterois – commonly known as lionfish, is a venomous and carniverous fish native to the Indo-Pacific that is now an invasive species in the Atlantic. The lionfish, a longstanding showstopper in home aquariums, is a flourishing invasive species in U.S. Southeast and Caribbean coastal waters.
The expansion has been extremely rapid and exponential in scope. Lionfish are:
- Voracious predators being shown to eat native fish and crustaceans in large quantities. (Juvenile Nassau grouper have been found in lionfish stomachs in the Bahamas.)
- Not known to have any native predators
- Equipped with venomous dorsal, ventral and anal spines, which deter predators and can cause painful wounds in humans.
- Capable of reproducing year-round with unique reproduction mechanisms not commonly found in native fishes.
- Relatively resistant to parasites, giving them another advantage over native species.
- Fast in their growth, able to outgrow native species with whom they compete for food and space.
How you can help stop the Lionfish Invasion
- Start requesting Lionfish at your local restaurant.
- Join REEF www.reef.org and help by donating money to their research if you can or just by collecting fish data on your dives.
Lionfish are not poisonous, but the spines are venomous and can cause a nasty sting if the skin is pierced. The staff do not hunt Lionfish whilst guiding a dive, however we do track them to report to authorities responsible for hunting them down. So please advise the staff should you sight any lionfish during your dive.
Lionfish are good to eat and any fish caught are either eaten or discarded if too small. Lionfish are here. Unfortunately the best we can hope to do is control numbers in the areas we dive. Eradication of lionfish is impossible until mother nature decides otherwise.