Invasive lionfish


  • Invasive lionfish, which have no native predators, have wreaked havoc in Florida and the Caribbean and have now spread to Brazil.

About Invasive lionfish:

  • Lionfish are one of the most pernicious invasive species swimming in oceans.
  • And now, they’ve made it as far south as Brazil on their continuing and destructive territorial expansion.
  • Lionfish have been migrating south for years.
  • They were first caught in the Gulf of Mexico, likely released from the aquarium trade, in 1985, and quickly expanded into U.S. East Coast and the Caribbean.
  • They reached South American coastlines around 2010.
  • Lionfish are the first exotic species to invade coral reefs.
  • They have multiplied at a rate that is almost unheard of in marine history, going from nonexistent to pervasive in just a few short years.
  • Along the way, they’ve eaten or starved out local fish, disrupted commercial fishing, and threatened the tourism industry.
  • Some experts believe that lionfish are so widespread that their effect on the ecosystems of the Western Atlantic will be almost impossible to reverse.
  • Still, some people are determined to try, if only to protect those waters which haven’t yet been invaded.
  • Lionfish are native to the warm tropical waters of the Indian and South Pacific Oceans, nearly 10,000 miles away from the Florida shore.
  • There are many species of lionfish in the world’s oceans, and they can be hard to tell apart.
  • Lionfish grow up to a foot long and sport candy cane stripes.
  • Their sharp spines contain a powerful venom.
  • Although a single prick from a lionfish spine can cause days of swelling, discomfort and even paralysis, Americans import thousands of lionfish every year for aquarium use.
  • Lionfish herd smaller fish into pockets of coral reef or up against barriers and then swallow the prey in a single strike.
  • In their native range, lionfish eat young damselfish, cardinal fish and shrimp, among others.
  • In the Western Atlantic, samples of lionfish stomach contents show that they consume more than 50 different species, including shrimp and juvenile grouper and parrotfish, species that humans also enjoy.
  • A lionfish’s stomach can expand up to 30 times its normal size after a meal.
  • Their appetite is what makes lionfish such frightening invaders.
  • Lionfish can be eaten safely if they are properly prepared to remove their venomous spines.
  • In Florida and the Caribbean, lionfish hunting tournaments have become popular as a control method.
  • However, lionfish move to deeper waters as they grow, so hunting alone can’t prevent them from spreading.

Syllabus: Prelims

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