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Lionfish Invasion: Atlantic Ocean Not The Same

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Venomous. Fast. Deadly. Will swallow food whole every time. Subject to only one known predator, which includes humans. What could this describe? The lionfish (native of the Pacific and Indian oceans) is the creature that is now taking over the Atlantic Ocean.

Roughly sized at fifteen inches, these marine creatures are not intimidating for their size, but rather the poisonous protrusions on their bodies. Typically active during the day, lionfish are found in rocky, shallow bays as well as coral reefs where camouflage is capable.

Graham Maddocks, the president of Ocean Support Foundation, recently spoke with CNN about the invasion. “The lionfish invasion is probably the worst environmental disaster the Atlantic will ever face.”

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Graham Maddocks went on to further explain, “I don’t know if we can stop the lionfish invasion. This isn’t a battle we can win, we can only maintain. Human beings started this problem. It is our fault they are here. We have to take responsibility and try to fix or hope we can control it.”

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James Morris, an ecologist with the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, echoed the sentiments of Graham Maddocks in a recent phone interview with CNN.

“It’s an infestation. The Atlantic Ocean is a big place, but the areas being affected are extremely important,” James Morris said.

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Concerns for the ecosystem focus around the capacity of the lionfish to devour other types of fish that cross their paths. Lionfish can produce 30,000 to 40,000 eggs within just a few days time and it is not unheard of for these fish to live for fifteen years, which equates with the potential for a high volume of unstoppable fish to dominate whatever areas these marine creatures inhabit. The potential for the survival of other types of marine life that inhabit the same space may be grim.

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Lionfish have poison in the needle-like protrusions from their bodies; however, there is no poison within the flesh of the fish and as such humans can consume without fear of ingesting poison. Many people have previously been afraid to eat the fish due to myths about the type of poison.

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Efforts have been underway in order to control the population of lionfish, which includes nine various subspecies. Some of the ongoing efforts for population control have included promoting lionfish tournaments and community-wide events such as fish fries.

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Though the concern is far from over, people must continue to strive to maintain an eco-friendly balance where one species does not overtake the others.

[Images Via Wikimedia Commons Courtesy of LASZLO ILYES, Serge Melki, Sebastian Wallroth, Daniel Dietrich and Ocean Support Foundation's Facebook Page]

Lionfish Invasion: Atlantic Ocean Not The Same
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  • Paco ElPaso

    1492 Indians should have nipped it in the bud.

    • Matt

      They tried… and failed. They never stood a chance. They were biologically and technologically inferior.

      • Matt

        … and before some ignorant fool plays the racism card, let me clarify that the biological comment refers to their relatively underdeveloped immune systems. The European immigrants had the benefit of centuries of natural selection due to illness caused by domesticated animals and urban living that had no parallel in the Americas.

  • Jacmo

    How is it that the Pacific has survived this fish for eons but the Atlantic won’t? Just curious since that was never explained.

    • ssdvr

      In their native waters there are numerous predators for them. In their new waters, the animals that can and will eat them are not familiar with them and the other fish don’t think of them as predators, they don’t know to be scared of them. In Bonaire (caribbean island near south america) specially trained dive guides will hunt them and feed them to grouper, eels and so on helping to teach the local fish that they can eat these guys thus creating predators that will help control the population. It is working. Plus, many of the restaurants are adding them to the menu giving the local fisherman some incentive.

    • Fransisco

      The lion fish doesn’t have any natural predators in the Atlantic and there is nothing out there that will keep the population under control, so thats why the population is exploding… Your obviously an idiotic fool who cannot understand the basic concepts of why a invasive species are so dangerous to an environment.

    • TomF

      In the Pacific the Groupers feed on them.
      Once the Atlantic Groupers learn that this fish is on the menu the situation will change.

      • Perry L. Bass

        The Pacific Grouper is NOT the same as Atlantic Grouper .

        The pacific grouper has been eating them “forever” .. We don’t have 60,000 year to wait , while they learn .

    • Perry L. Bass

      You’re ignorant to the facts !

  • Perry L. Bass

    If & they are not where they are supposed to be – kill them .
    They have NO predators in their un-natural enviroment !
    “Our” reefs are under stress … they do not need any more help destroying them !
    If you like them … pick one up & pet it . I’ll send you a get well card , while you are in the hospital for a couple of days !

  • http://yahoo Kathy

    Forgive me for asking, But, Hello did they just swim in from the west
    last night.?

    This is the 1st. that I heard of this. I was in Fla. just 3 weeks ago
    Daytona, was there a week heard no one talking about this. Don’t you
    think people would be running to the hills. I would never had put my foot in the water If I would have know.