It’s been over twenty years since we first started hearing alarming reports of lionfish being seen in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Originally from the Indo-Pacific it is not certain how they invaded the Atlantic, but once in waters where they have no natural predators, the lionfish population exploded and quickly became the most destructive invasive species in history. They now range as far as southern Brazil with devastating consequences for coastal ecosystems. In What you need to know about Lionfish we give you the latest research, recipes and videos on Lionfish.
Is the Lionfish a Superfish?
We know that lionfish are very adaptable and formidable predators but how could they spread so quickly and cause so much damage? According to Brian Bowen, a geneticist at the University of Hawaii “this is an invasion of what could be a superfish.” In other words this is not an invasive species but an invasive hybrid, a situation new to marine biology. (photo – Roatan Tourism)
This extraordinary data was uncovered by scientists from the University of Hawaii and Japanese colleagues that analyzed the nuclear DNA of the invasive lionfish and determined that the great majority were Indo-Pacific hybrids that range from the eastern Indian Ocean to the South Pacific and north to Japan. This enormous range suggests that the hybrid may be stronger and reproduce more successfully than their parent species. It is known that invasive lionfish grow faster and larger. (photo – Rich Carey)
This new revelation does not suggest new ways of combating the invasion, however, it does suggest that on-going research may need to be adjusted in how they compare lionfish species. See the entire article in hakimmagazine.com.
Lionfish lunch on unknown species
A new species of goby discovered off Curacao and named “ember gobies” or Palatogobius incendius appear to be lunch for Lionfish as reported in Livescience. In video taken aboard the submersible Curasub in February of 2015 a lionfish devours several of the tiny 0.8 inch long gobbies.
“Once we discovered invasive lionfish — sometimes in huge numbers — inhabiting barely explored deep reefs, our concern was that these voracious predators might be gobbling up biodiversity before scientists even know it exists,” Said Carole Baldwin, the curator of fishes at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
What is alarming is that lionfish are hunting in deep reef ecosystems. “The other species still undescribed on these reefs are very rare and occur in lower abundances than our new species. If they are getting eaten by lionfish, they may be in more trouble than the ember goby,” said Luke Tornabene, from the Burke Museum of Natural History in Seattle.
This summer researchers expect to take their investigation deeper. In a different submarine they intend to descend to 800 meters near Honduras where by using traps they hope to catch and analyze invasive lionfish. See our Blue Ocean post on high-tec traps for capturing lionfish.
Can we train Sharks to eat Lionfish
We have cookbooks on preparing and eating lionfish but can we train sharks to eat them. Sharks are not a natural predator of lionfish but can they develop a taste for them, with a little help.
Eat a Lionfish for the Environment
Now we can fight invasive lionfish by taking them from reef to restaurant. Pot Roast & Pinot in Pensacola, Florida, is just one restaurant that has added the tasty fish to its menu. The restaurant works with licensed divers who on one dive can capture hundreds of pounds of lionfish. If this catches on it may create a viable fishing industry and save Florida’s coral reef ecosystems all in one bite. (photo – Whole Foods)
Lionfish at your local grocery!
At least if you live in Florida you can find lionfish in the fish section of your local Whole Foods Grocery as reported in USA Today. At $8.99 a pound, it’s a deal.
Lionfish have “white, buttery meat that lends itself to a number of different recipes.” The fish’s venomous spines will be removed by Whole Foods workers before consumers purchase the fish.
Maybe Friday night Lionfish Frys will become community events in the sunshine state and keep your eyes open for lionfish at a Whole Foods near you. (photo – Whole Foods)
See these related Blue Ocean Posts on Lionfish:
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