Populations of invasive lionfish have ballooned throughout the past few years and are a severe threat to the native fish population on the Atlantic Coast and in the Caribbean Sea, according to recent expedition participants.
As one of the early leaders studying the lionfish invasion, Oregon State University joined other agencies in a deep-diving submersible to study the invasion of lionfish off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., in September.
Female lionfish spawn every four days, year round. They produce 25,000 eggs per batch. This means each female spawns more than 2 million eggs per year.
There are no known predators for lionfish in the Atlantic Ocean, aside from fisherman. Lionfish themselves are ravenous predators.
Lionfish are a native species to the Pacific Ocean, but were accidentally introduced to the Atlantic Ocean in the last part of the 1980s. A previous Oregon State University study found that the growing lionfish population has wiped out 80 percent of the native fish.
Recently, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has announced that it would be changing laws to promote the fishing of lionfish throughout the area.
The invasive fish continue to threaten local fishing and tourism economies. They also cause harm to delicate coral reef ecosystems.