Foreign Species taking over in the South Atlantic and Gulf Coasts

Can you imagine what life would be like if your entire community was being invaded to the point of eradication? What would life be like? What would you do to prevent this from happening?

The Lionfish, native to the pacific coast, is invading the homes of fish that live in coral reefs along Southern Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The Lionfish, otherwise known as Pterois Volitans, has long venomous fins. It uses the venom in to prey on reef fish that sustain the natural ecosystem of coral reefs. The reef fish play an important role by eating the bad algae off of the reefs so it can live.

The Lionfish is able to survive in its new habitat because it has no known predators. This causes a huge problem for native species because the Lionfish can continue to reproduce without being preyed upon. While the numbers of Lionfish are increasing, the numbers of reef fish are decreasing.

Lionfish also cause problems for local commercial fishermen. Lionfish are eradicating grunt fish, snapper, Nassau grouper, which are already indigenous, and cleaner shrimp. Some of these fish are used commercially for fishermen to make a livelihood. The fishermen will not be able to continue their trade and restaurants will be out of fish unless there is a stop to the Lionfish invasion.

Recreationally, Lionfish could possibly start driving out divers who enjoy reef diving. If the Lionfish are constantly eating the algae-eating fish, then naturally the coral reefs will decay to the point of extinction and there will not be anything to see. Also, with the potential of being stung by the venomous fins divers could start avoiding certain areas so they are not put in danger.

So what can be done to prevent the Lionfish invasion? First it starts with public awareness and education. The more people who are aware of this issue can start spreading the word and report Lionfish sightings. Spear divers are already being proactive by capturing the fish for commercial sale and research. Another prevention tactic is education. By educating the population about the dangers of releasing aquarium fishes into bodies of water might reduce the number of alien fish.


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