Essay on Student: Atlantic Ocean and United States

Submitted By ljrackers1
Words: 1208
Pages: 5

Invasive Species: Red Lionfish Invasive species is defined as “a non-native species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human, animal, or plant health.” The Red Lionfish is in fact an invasive species since 1992 after hurricane Andrews that hit the Caribbean, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. The Pterois volitans (Red Lionfish) is Greek and Latin for feathered or winged (Pterois=Greek) and flying or hovering (volitans=Latin). This description fits it well since it looks like it has wings on either side of the fish and appears to be flying in the water when it swims. It is in the class of Actinpterygii (ray-finned fishes), the order of Scorpaeniformes (scorpion fishes and sculpins), and the family of Scorpaenidae (firefishes, goblinfishes, rockfishes, and scorpionfishes). The Red Lionfish has an unmistakable red/maroon/brown and white vertical striped coloration covering its body from anterior to posterior. The Red Lionfish is also covered in cycloid scales that are flat thin and round in shape which are similar to trout. Lionfish are venomous with up to 18 spines used for a defense mechanism against daring/curious on-lookers and predators. The venom cannot seriously harm a human minus vomiting, headaches, or respiratory problems, but can stun or kill other fish. They also have two sets of fleshy tentacles; one set above the eyes and another under the mouth. These are used like a lure to draw prey closer in for feeding. They can live up to 10 years and can grow up to 18.5 inches in lengths as adults (more commonly 12 inches) and as small as 1 inch as juveniles. The Red Lionfish is natively found in the Indo-Pacific region, but have currently been located in the warm waters of the Atlantic Coast lines and the Caribbean of the United States of America. Like stated before, the Red Lionfish is native to the corals and covered areas of the Indo-Pacific region, which stretches from the East side of Africa to the Hawaii area (good majority of the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean entirely). There are two stories in how the Red Lionfish came to the United States. First, in 1992 it is believed when hurricane Andrews hit the Caribbean, Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico; the aquariums along the coasts were destroyed and releasing a very common marine aquarium fish (Lionfish) into the ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Second, it is also believed that the Gulf Stream assisted them from the Indo Pacific region to the United States. Both stories are believable, but neither can be proven to be the true reason; I’m sure that both are good factors to blame. Since then this highly reproductive and non-prey fish has been flourishing in the South and East coasts of the United States of America and has been established in these areas since the mid 2000’s. The Red Lionfish is typically found in warm marine waters of the tropics, but have been spotted as far Northeast as New York in cooler waters. They prefer to live around/in rocky, coral, or grassy covered areas for protection and preying on fish and shrimp in the area. The Red Lionfish are typically nocturnal predators on fish, crab, and shrimp. They have been found with full specimens inside its stomach; indicating that the Red Lionfish swallows its prey whole and have been known to consume up to 30 times their stomach size. They are typically slow moving fish, but when tempted it has lightning fast reflexes to defend itself or capture prey. In the day times it is usually found in the shadows of the rocks, coral, or grass covered areas to give it a better chance of survival by camouflaging into its surroundings. The Red Lionfish reproduces sexually; and can reproduce as soon as a year after birth. They can also reproduce once every four days. The male can release its sperm up to 6-8 females at a time and then the females will release 2,000-15,000 fertilized eggs at one time. A female can release up to 2 million eggs per year. This provides