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The Invasive Lionfish

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  • Pages: 2
  • Word count: 455
  • Category: Ecosystem

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Throughout the world their hundreds of species, whether it’s animal or plant hundreds exist here in our ecosystems today. Species that are found in a specific area and only found in this specific place are called endemic species. Here in Florida we have several endemic species and an example of one is the great Florida Panther. The Florida Panther is also a very endangered species only a few hundred still exist. Many factors contribute to its small population such as human development. But also there’s another factor that specifically is a concern here in South Florida and that is invasive species. An invasive species is a foreign species that is introduced to an ecosystem (not by nature).

A commonly known invasive species to South Florida and also in many other places is the killer Lionfish. Found in coral reefs or any structured bottom such as shipwrecks or even bridge columns. Ranging from 6-12 inches Lionfish look the way they sound. They don’t have a mane but the Lionfish has 18 deadly dorsal fins with enough venom to knock a human over. It relies on camouflage and ambushing they’re prey for survival and have no known natural predators. It’s the king of the reef. With its red and white striped body, it spells out dangerous (Schofield).

It was said to have arrived here on the East coast back in 1992 after Hurricane Andrew. In 2006, 6 were discovered in the Bahamas and later in 2012 over 1000 were found in just one acre in some parts of the Bahamas and Florida Keys. That being said, they’re invading like weeds. They will eat almost everything and researchers have found that its stomach can stretch up to 30 times its size, and can survive 12 weeks without eating. They’re uncontrollable.

The problem with Lionfish is that they have no known natural predators so that means they just eat and eat. Grouper populations have been significantly declining which makes researchers believe that our natural groupers are its favorite treat. These invaders are causing a massive disruption with our reef ecosystems and making the coral reefs an unbalanced
food chain.

There have been many efforts to help reduce the population of these invasive Lionfish but it’s inevitable at the speed they are reproducing. Local dive shops have made an effort to hold Lionfish Tournaments where divers kill as many as they can for a grand prize. It’s a fun and fairly safe way to help the impact. Lionfish need a predator and we can be them, some people even say they taste great.

Works Cited

Schofield, JA Morris, JN Langston, and PL Fuller. Lionfish (Pterois Volitans/miles). 18 September 2012. 29 January 2013 <http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?speciesid=963>.

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