Saturday, 25 January 2014

Lionfish May Be Here to Stay, But Hunting Them Helps

By Megan Gannon, News Editor | January 23, 2014 07:27am ET

Credit: Oregon State University
The rapidly reproducing and notoriously hungry lionfish has pushed native creatures out of tropical reefs at an alarming rate in the western Atlantic, where the invasive species has no naturalpredators.

Even though it may be impossible to get rid of lionfish altogether in the Atlantic, measures to control their populations — even spearing them one at a time — seem to help native species recover, a new study in the Bahamas suggests.

The findings come as good news after years of discouraging discoveries about lionfish, which are native to tropical regions of the Pacific Ocean and were likely introduced to Atlantic waters in the 1990s. One study last year showed that not even sharks could help stem the spread of the species. Another investigation found that lionfish are thriving in even deeper waters off Florida than feared. In some spots in the Atlantic, it was estimated that lionfish, which are covered in venomous spines, had wiped out 95 percent of native fish.

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