Lion fish invasion
A lion fish is a colorful Pacific reef fish. Its orange and white zebra stripe like pattern makes it a favorite to American salt water tanks. These fish are predatory and do not care what type of fish it is feeding on as long as it can be swallowed. They have many fins with spiny protrusions. Each fin tip has a potent poison. This poison among other things causes extreme pain and fever with vomiting and nausea. If you’re allergic to the venom you will probably die but normal healthy humans will survive. The fish also have interesting breeding habits as well, these fish breed monthly. Meaning these fish can take over an area 12 times faster than normal invasive species. These fish have been wreaking havoc on many fish species in the Atlantic.
The lionfish infestation of the Atlantic is one of the fastest invasive species overpopulations on record. In less than 20 years they have spread entirely across the Atlantic and Caribbean oceans. It is said to have started off the coast in North Carolina in 1980 when a couple of sightings occurred. These sightings began to become more frequent and before you knew it there were hundreds completely wiping out fish populations. But they did not stay in just North Carolina. They moved all the way down the coast infesting every population of fish and underwater formation imaginable.
There were a few possible explanations as to why it may have happened the first is that during a hurricane where pets were released because of broken tanks and such. This was dismissed because it was thought almost impossible for a fish to survive after the breaking of its tank and the environment shock. The real answer was that they were released by ignorant owners into their “natural environment” they just didn’t bother to check which ocean they belonged in. This theory was given the most credit because all of the invasive lionfish can be genetically linked to 8 or 9 original female fish.
Eradication efforts are few but plentiful. Basically it is open season for lionfish all year long. If you see it shoot it. Even in protected areas you may buy a very cheap permit to hunt lionfish year long. They don’t bite on regular lures because they hide in the reef. And they rarely wander into the open ocean. It rests solely on free divers, scuba divers, locals, and other ocean enthusiasts to keep the invasion at bay. Tournaments are created in almost every place and country. Bars have signs with free food if you bring in the body of a lionfish. Also people are beginning to eat the fish. What better way is there to eradicate an invasive species? Cookbooks can now be found in many places around the world.
When I was working in Cozumel Mexico we saw these fish all the time in protected areas and unprotected waters. If there was a structure, there was probably a lionfish. So when we would take the tourists out, we would always have spears with us. We could show them the beautiful fish wait for them to start swimming away and then shoot them in the head. When the fish was dead we would feed it to the anemones. Unfortunately we ran out of anemones quite often and had to start carrying bags.