Why Lionfish Bad For The Reefs
Lionfish are brilliantly striped, have long fins, and venomous dorsal spines. As they repose on reef structures their white spines puff and swell. They move slowly and consume prey at a rapid rate. Artificial reefs are proving to be an extremely popular habitat for the lionfish. And they’re starting to be seen inshore.
Lionfish eat constantly when food is plentiful, but can store fat for up to 12 weeks without feeding. They’ll eat crustaceans, fish such as snappers and groupers, and smaller reef varieties. Find out more about lionfish – why are they bad for the reefs and what can be done here…
Find Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Lionfish:
Where do lionfish come from?
Lionfish origin is actually the Indo-Pacific, but they’re finding their way into the Atlantic, and the Caribbean. And across the Gulf of Mexico. It’s believed that the first lionfish were introduced into the sea from home aquariums when they weren’t wanted any longer.
Are lionfish dangerous?
Extremely. They have 18 venomous feathery spines along their backs and sides which carry a deadly poison. The venom can be injected into the bloodstream via a sharp spine. And can cause an immense amount of local pain and swelling. An allergic reaction can produce potentially deadly complications resulting from anaphylactic shock.
How long do lionfish get?
Lionfish can grow up to 60cm, and come in all shapes and sizes. A lionfish lifespan is long, as they’re resistant to other fish and to bacteria. They can live from between 10 to 15 years in the wild.
How do lionfish hunt?
Lionfish use unique hunting techniques as they herd their prey with their fins. They also blow water at their prey before they strike. They prevent them from escaping before lunging and swallowing in a single bite.
Can you eat lionfish?
The meat of a lionfish is flavoursome. Restaurants are now offering seasoned and gently seared white fish cooked rare. The fish is light and flaky with a sweet taste. The fish are versatile, so can be served with creamy sauces and heavy seasoning.
Why are lionfish bad?
As lionfish don’t have many natural predators they’re tending to dominate the coral reefs and eat many young fish. They eat anything and everything – and the females lay up to 50,000 eggs every few days.
Why are lionfish a problem?
If the numbers of lionfish continue to escalate this may have a really detrimental effect within the fishing industries. This could cost millions as populations of fish are decimated by these super predators. Lionfish invasive species can cause native plants and animals to become extinct as they compete for limited resources.
Why are invasive lionfish a problem?
An invasion of massive proportions could seriously harm marine ecosystems. And is a very real threat to reefs and the marine environment. They’re a nuisance and don’t take a hook and line bait.
Lionfish hunting is reliably done by spearfishing. Divers will use equipment designed specifically for the purpose. Shorter pole spears are able to be reloaded quickly so that individual divers can remove the majority of lionfish off a reef structure.
Missions to Round-up Lionfish
All types of lionfish will be looked at when deciding how to continue to market this invasive species. Creating commercial markets for the lionfish meat is essential in helping to control the spread. They reproduce in vast numbers, and ocean conditions only serve to spread the species and concentrate them in new areas.
Commercially important species are known to be diminishing due to lionfish predation. And this continues to put pressure on local fisheries with traditional fishing methods. Recreational activities are also affected. Lionfish regularly raid areas where juvenile game fish live causing their decline. And octopus, lobsters, and seahorses are all eaten reducing the sightings of these creatures by scuba divers.
If the reefs continue to decline different destinations will be chosen for dive centres, fishing charters, and the new builds of hotels and restaurants. So, it’s extremely important to understand the consequences of lionfish invasion when reef health is so drastically affected.
Lionfish invasions have become an issue in Cozumel, Mexico. Lionfish hunting here produced 12 tons of lionfish fillet in under two years from less than 10 miles of sea. Direct action from the fishermen hunters is the most viable way to control the population in a small area. With continued hunting, the native fish and other sea creatures will eventually rebound.
Local environment groups in Florida gather annually to harvest over 15,000 lionfish from local waters during events that last for two days. During these festivals, area chefs demonstrate how to prepare and cook the fish without touching the venomous spines.
It’s a fact that invasive lionfish are destroying reefs and native fish stocks throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. And underwater systems will struggle to cope if lionfish aren’t promoted as delicacies on restaurant menus.