Within the past 5 years or so, Lionfish have been on the minds of many marine biologists and fisherman all along the east coast of the United States, Caribbean Islands and Jamaica. Originally, from the Pacific, Lionfish were brought over to this part of the world through research and the aquarium trade. Many believe aquarium tank owners that had Lionfish in their tanks (which they used to pay up to $500 for) would release the fish into the wild once they got too big. Another speculation is that they many have been introduced due to the flooding of research facilities during harsh storms.
Dispersal of lionfish population of the Caribbean from 1985 till 2011. Red dots indicate presence of lionfish. Ref: http://nas.er.usgs.gov
The Lionfish have now begun to take over the East Coast and are causing major problems in their path. They are eating almost every type of fish including many of the most economic fish. Although we have many of the Lionfish’s natural predators here on the east coast, the predators here are not used to eating this fish and therefore cannot help the control the Lionfish population. Governments and Environmental programs are trying really hard to encourage the locals to start fishing for Lionfish. The fish themselves are tasty but the only problem is that Lionfish have sharp spines on the tips of their fins that make them difficult to handle. During the past few years scientist have been trying hard to capture and kill Lionfish larvae and they have been attempting to develop traps that will only attract Lionfish and not any other bycatch.
The other day Joe, Sal and Taylor speared five Lionfish! We cut off all of the spines and gutted them. In the largest fish, we found a small parrotfish. This fish was actually rather large in comparison to the Lionfish. We than gave the Lionfish to Scarlet who may have eaten it for dinner.
Ps. Almost have of this class say “y’all” now. I see this a great accomplishment!