Monday, May 18, 2009
Sara had a great comment - I'm sorry I didn't explain about the lionfish! Lionfish are a species of fish originally from the tropical Pacific and India Ocean. They were first seen around Florida in the 1990s. The "invasion" probably began with people throwing their aquarium fish out when they got too big for their tanks. They have poisonous barbs and have almost no predators in the Atlantic so their population is exploding and spreading from South Carolina down to the Caribbean. They are very aggressive carnivores and eat everything in sight - they're basically decimating the indigenous coral reef fish populations where ever they show up. Environmentalists are really concerned that on top of warming waters and over fishing, the lionfish could tip the scales for ecological disaster in the mid-Atlantic.
Most cruisers here know about them and when legal, people will kill them if they find when they're out spear fishing. Organizations like Reef and NOAA are trying to greatly reduce the population from Florida waters by killing and trapping them. We were told last night that there's a movement in the Bahamas now to teach people how to eat them (and I just read this in the article linked below). If they're good eating that should help reduce the population a bit! So even though I hate killing things - I turn a bit vicious when I see these things all over the place.
I was looking around for some internet info to post here in case anyone wanted to read more and found a fantastic Smithsonian article that was just published this month: