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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Maritime Logistics Professional


Posted to Maritime Musings (by on November 8, 2013

An Indo-Pacific reef fish now invading the western Atlantic

The lionfish (pterois) is an 11-15 inch long venomous marine fish native to the western Pacific and eastern Indian oceans.  Like some other species, it bears conspicuous colorization, primarily red, white, or black zebra stripes, to warn potential predators that it may be more trouble to eat than it is worth.  As a result, it has few regular predators, primarily sharks and large groupers.  The lionfish tends to live along coral reefs.  It is highly prolific, with an adult female monthly releasing egg clusters, containing up to 15,000 eggs.  It eats almost anything smaller than itself and is highly territorial.  The lionfish has been known to attack research divers who get too close.  The venom in its lengthy fin rays can cause extreme pain, headache, numbness, nausea, fever, and diarrhea.  For the young, the elderly, or those in poor health, death may result.  For the adventurous, it is considered a culinary delicacy.  Its showy coloration has made the lionfish a favorite of those who have seawater aquariums.  In about 1990, the lionfish was found for the first time in waters off southern Florida.  It has since spread as far north as North Carolina and as far south as Venezuela.  The lionfish is now found on coral reefs throughout the Caribbean and even in Bermuda.  Genetic analysis reveals that all of these are related to about five females, leading to the conclusion that a disillusioned aquarium owner dumped them into local waters, probably Biscayne Bay sometime in the late 1980s.  Having invaded the tropical and subtropical waters of the western Atlantic, the lionfish is driving out native species on coral reefs, making the reefs more susceptible to further damage.  In some locations, such as the Florid Keys National Marine Sanctuary and tourist areas such as Cozumel, divers are actively encouraged to hunt and kill lionfish.  Local cookbooks now include recipes for preparation of lionfish, fried, grilled, jerky, and ceviche.