The invasive Lionfish are on the move, and they’ve arrived in the Mediterranean, the first record of the species in the area.
The beautiful, venomous fish have caught the attention of scientists recently because of their devastating and invasive behavior. Invasive species are particularly dangerous, because they go to new ecosystems where they have no natural predators and can multiply quickly, upsetting the biodiversity in the new location.
In just one year, lionfish have colonized nearly the entire southeastern coast of Cyprus, and numbers are only expected to increase.
Lionfish are the most recent of the onslaught of invasive species in the Mediterranean Sea, a suspected consequence of warmer ocean temperatures caused by climate change. Although once believed the area would not be a suitable habitat for the fish, recent observations have shown multiple fish, including mating pairs in the area. Lionfish can spawn every 4 days all year, which adds up to more than 2 million eggs each year. Pair the reproductive abilities with their spiny venom means lots of fish and very few predators to keep them in check.
Once mating pairs have been found, something needs to be done immediately to prevent the unchecked growth of the unwanted species. The fish are rather easy to catch, and quite delicious to eat. A fisherman only needs to know how to properly remove the spines, and the fish are completely safe for human consumption.
Whole Foods stores in Florida, United States, have recently begun selling the fish in their stores in order to combat invasive populations in their state. Maybe the same method will work to prevent an invasive population in the Mediterranean Sea as well. Fishermen are the best and first line of defense against the fish, so with proper equipment, they could protect the area from any further Lionfish invasion.