Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lionfish Threaten Coral Reef Devastation in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean

Lionfish Invasion: Super Predator Threatens Caribbean Coral Reefs

By: Mark Hixon, Mark Albins, and Tori Redinger

Indo-Pacific lionfish are rapidly invading the waters of the Caribbean and tropical Atlantic. Due to their population explosion and aggressive behavior, lionfish have the potential to become the most disastrous marine invasion in history by drastically reducing the abundance of coral reef fishes and leaving behind a devastated ecosystem. Dr. Mark Hixon and his team from Oregon State University with support from NOAA’s Undersea Research Program (NURP) have embarked on the first studies to measure the severity of the crisis posed by this invasive predator.

While complete eradication does not seem realistic, affected nations are encouraged to initiate targeted lionfish control efforts as soon as possible, including targeted fisheries (lionfish flesh is tasty and cooking denatures the spine venom). Efforts to reduce densities of lionfish at key locations may help to lessen their ecological impacts. Recovering and maintaining healthy populations of potential native predators of lionfish, such as large grouper and sharks, may also help reduce the deleterious effects of these voracious invasive predators.

If you see a Lionfish while diving make an attempt to remove it from the reef with a spear, net, or any other safe apparatus. Do not touch the spines. If you are unsuccessful please report your sighting here online. Or, report any lionfish catches to NOAA at (252) 728-8714 or

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