This page is for me to highlight certain marine issues that are particularly interesting to me and that I feel are important. As I find new information on each issue and new ways to help I’ll keep adding to it so keep checking back!
The Lionfish Invasion in the Atlantic
I am currently a senior in university and writing an honors thesis for my Environmental Studies major about the lionfish invasion into the western Atlantic ocean (particularly in Bermuda). I was awarded a grant to conduct research on the lionifsh invasion and am now writing a 50 page paper on my research! It’s safe to say that lionfish are always on my mind. This section will highlight some background information on lionfish, how they invaded into the Atlantic, how they’re harming the ecosystem, & what we can do to help.
Background Info on Lionfish
Red Lionfish: also called Pterois volitans
- Diet: Any small fish they can fit in their mouth
- Average life span in the wild: Up to 15 years
- Size: 11.8 – 15 inches
- Weight: Up to 2.6 lbs
- They sting!
- Lionfish stores venom in the tips of its needle-like dorsal fins
- If attacked, it delivers venom via these needle-like dorsal fins to its attacker
- Thought to be originally released into the Atlantic near south Florida in the early 1990s from people who no longer wanted them as aquarium pets
- Lionfish have populated about a million square miles of ocean in 10 years
- Genetic testing has proved that all these lionfish are descended from about 8 original lionfish that were released somewhere in south Florida
- Found in the Caribbean, Atlantic, & along the East coast of the United States
Impacts of the Lionfish Invasion
- Tourism: Coral reefs contribute to a large portion of island nations’ economies
- Example: In Bermuda coral reefs earn island $700 million/year, supporting 12% of island economy
- Globally coral reefs may provide goods and services worth $375 billion/year
- Fishing: If lionfish eat all the smaller fish, they drive away populations of larger fish such as grouper & other commercially valuable fish
How You Can Help
Eat them!!! Lionfish taste great, they are a very mild fish to eat so they go great in a lot of dishes. Bermuda has an annual Lionfish tournament where people go out and hunt them and chefs prepare them for the pubic to eat. When going to restaurants if you don’t see lionfish on the menu – ask for them! It will help generate a higher demand for them.
To learn more about the lionfish invasion in Bermuda and how you can help check out the Ocean Support Foundation: Ocean Support Foundation