Most people agree . . . Lionfish are beautiful. If you’ve seen one in the wild you know they are hard to miss. They look out of place because well the fish is out of place and is considered exotic. Lion fish are native to the indo-pacific. If you’re wondering that’s the southeast coast of Africa to the Philippines and Australia. So how did they make their way to the Caribbean oceans? According to lionfish.gcfi.org “The release of unwanted lionfish into the wild from home aquaria is believed to be the most probable source for the invasion.” Lionfish have been seen more and more since the late 1980’s and early 90’s and have been multiplying rapidly since. So why is this a bad thing and why should you be opting to eat a venomous fish instead of a tasty grouper or snapper? Keep reading and you’ll see why this is a win for you and a win for the Atlantic oceans ecosystems.
1.) Lionfish are invasive to the Gulf and Atlantic Oceans
If you live in the southeastern United States you might have seen this invasive species in recent news. These fish have been progressively decimating Caribbean fish populations. There are 12 species of lionfish native to the Indo-Pacific Ocean. The red lionfish and common lionfish are the sub species that have invaded Atlantic waters.
Lionfish have all the characteristics of an invasive species. They have few natural predators, cause interruption to the natural order of the food chain and reproduce quickly. A single lionfish can lay up to two million eggs in its life time and reaches sexual maturity within a year. These fish aren’t picky eaters. They eat anything from crabs, shrimp and small lobster to other small fish that don’t recognize them as predators. Because lionfish are non-native to our reefs it is harder for their potential prey to recognize them as predators.