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Invasion of Lionfish Is an 'Unprecedented Threat'

Luisa Massarani - SciDevNet
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October 5, 2016
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Click here to see the growing invasion of lionfish in the Atlantic, Caribean and the Gulf of Mexico (USGS)

The population of Cuji fish (Haemulon aurolineatum), native to the southeastern coast of the United States, has dropped almost by a half (45 per cent) since 1990 — a time that coincides with the start of an invasion by lionfish (Pterois antennata), which originate from the Indian Ocean and western Pacific.

The estimate was made in a study published in the Scientific Reports journal (August 31). It states that this invasion is an “unprecedented” hazard for biodiversity and fisheries in the US, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.

Although the study only includes impacts on Cuji fish, the authors believe it is likely that the lionfish invasion had similar impacts on other fish species, some of which could be economically significant.

The authors compared different areas of the Atlantic Ocean, from the US states of North Carolina to Florida, during the lionfish invasion (1990-2014).

Data on the abundance of fish species were obtained through systems typically used for monitoring fishing resources, which use similar methodologies to gather biological information. The abundance of each species was measured with the use of traps installed 15 to 200 metres deep.

This method also allowed the researchers to obtain relevant information about the environment, such as depth, date, time, location and water temperature. The traps were equipped with videocameras to support the abundance estimates of native species and lionfish.

Read the rest at SciDevNet

Related: Lionfish Challenge Removes 16,609 Invasive Fish (Fox News)

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