Sunday, December 28, 2008

My hatred of Lionfish

Thanks for the question, Rene.

Lionfish were imported into Florida for years by the tens of thousands for the saltwater aquarium trade.

They have become established in the Atlantic and Caribbean since 1996, I think the year is. In only twelve years, they have spread from an original six fish(DNA tested) near Miami, Florida, up to Maine(summers) to Bermuda, all of the Bahamas, Little Cayman, east to the Virgin Islands, and the first one in Belize was reported a couple of weeks ago.

Lionfish are native to the Pacific. They have no predators in the Atlantic and Caribbean. They are multiplying and spreading at a mind boggling rate. They eat nearly constantly, and can consume another fish 2/3 their length. They also eat lobsters, crabs, and just about anything that moves. They grow to eighteen inches long, 45 centimeters, and live from shallow to much deeper than scuba diving limits. Their spines are extremely, dangerously venomous.

"They are decimating tropical reef fish populations. They are alien, and there is no way to be rid of them. They hunt by herding their prey with their huge pectoral fins. No fish in the Caribbean/Atlantic hunts this way. Our fish are defenseless.

"In studies on controlled plots, the OSU scientists determined that lionfish reduced young juvenile fish populations by 79 percent in only a five-week period. Many species were affected, including cardinalfish, parrotfish, damselfish and others. One large lionfish was observed consuming 20 small fish in a 30-minute period."

I guess I'm a coral reef historian.

I cry.

I hate Lionfish.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps you could paint an image of the lionfish for a "Wanted" poster detailing its trespass and destruction to raise awareness.
    Without natural predators, yes, but can't divers hunt them? Can you 'round up a posse and bring at least some of the outlaws to justice?