by: Summer Livengood
The definition of invasive species; “An animal that tends to spread prolifically and undesirable or harmful.” Lionfish are a perfect example of an invasive species. These beautiful creatures are predators to smaller fish. With their beautiful spikes and colors, you must be extremely careful when handling lionfish because the spikes are highly venomous and being poked by them can cause extreme discomfort. Heat kills their venom,and some people actually use their spines after heat treated as toothpicks. Some restaurants will pay spearfishers to catch them, and bring them to be served at the restaurant. You have to be careful though if the cooks don’t know how to cut the lionfish right you could still have venom glands in their system.
These fish showed up in 1985, people say that a person from a different country brought them here as pets, and later dumped a couple of them in Florida Keys waters. Later, the lionfish started mating, growing their population. Lionfish only predators are humans, because of their venomous spins no marine life will touch the lionfish. Their overpopulation is killing other small fish populations because this fish only has one predator therefore populating and eating all of the small fish.
Lionfish can be up to 20 inches and most live up to 20 years. These fish do so much harm that the Florida Keys people and organizations throw spearfishing tournaments to see who can get the most lionfish. The hope is to slim their population, so that other smaller fish species don’t go extinct, and to make the reefs overall healthier. The lionfish rodeos and reef relief are in Key West they are some of the main events, and prizes are given out for the most lionfish caught. Lionfish are the invasive fish of the Florida Keys.
Image from snorkel around the world