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Elegant and Invasive Fish Invading South Florida Reefs

Posted by Lorea Thomson on Tuesday, August 15th, 2017 at 2:30pm.

The Lionfish is an attractive and elegant fish but unfortunately it is an invasive species in our South Florida reefs and waters. The lionfish are incredibly destructive to our reef environments as they have no natural predators and plenty of food, resulting in over-population. Lionfish eat miniscule shrimp which is the main diet of our native reef fish including juvenile grouper, snook, mullet, snapper and many other species. Since, the lionfish have no natural predators here and are destroying our native marine life populations, it is up to our divers and approved events that to help govern their population and with any luck eradicate them one day. 

The Lionfish is not native to Floridian waters and it wreaks havoc on the local reef and coastal ecosystems. More than 8,000 of the non-native fluttering lionfish were taken in the annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day Festival last weekend. In Pensacola alone, 8,089 lionfish were removed in only two days at the Gulf Coast Lionfish Coalition Tournament. 

According to an article found on Lionfish.com the reason They are such a problem is because they are capable of preying on and eating fish over 1 and a half times their body size. The invasive fish has been known to eat more than 70 different species that are native to Floridian waters, which cause a devastating amount of damage to our reef environments. Lionfish.com also mentioned that “a single Lionfish can reduce native marine creatures by 80-to-90 percent within just five weeks.”

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are making statewide efforts such as fishing tournaments, diving tournaments and how-to-cook Lionfish. Brought to be sold as legal aquarium pets, they were brought to the East Coast by pet dealers. Check out FFWCC for more information on conservation of our reefs.

Researchers call beautiful and graceful "voracious predators" that eat minuet shrimp, as well as other sources right off our local reefs including very young snook, baby grouper, tiny mullet and other types of reef dwellers as well as the small fish. According to the website Lionfish.com stated that “a single lionfish can reduce native marine creatures by 80-to-90 percent within just five weeks.”

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