Tropical FIsh: Lionfish are a New Menace to the Reefs
Here is an example of a previously rare fish beginning to wreak havoc in local tropical reefs.
We can’t blame man for this growing problem in the reefs off Florida and the Bahamas. Divers are not being treated to the spectacle of a shimmering and glittering reef full of life and movement in many of the out of the way dive places. The problem is the once rare Lionfish are a new menace to the reefs of a number of our Caribbean coasts. They are interlopers that have found that the almost closed system of an isolated reef is a huge smörgåsbord of delightful eating. The problem is that they sit at the top of the food chain here with few, if any predators to control and stabilize their population. A recent diver tells the story of her dive to a reef that had been taken over by lionfish:
The reef looked healthy; stands of mountainous star coral jutted up from the ocean floor, interspersed with tangled branches of staghorn. Soft corals, such as sea whips and sea fans, undulated with the gentle current. A few groupers swam around the entrance to a marine cave that descended into darkness in the middle of the reef tract.
But Martorell was alarmed by what she didn’t see — convict-striped sergeant majors busily patrolling the reef to protect their mass of lavender eggs; brightly hued parrotfish munching the thin coating of algae covering the coral; angelfish, gobies, surgeonfish and others meandering around, doing whatever it is they do in a typical day.
Then, as Martorell swam around with her camera, she saw a large lionfish sitting boldly outside a cavern. A few minutes later, she spotted another of the peppermint-striped predators, then another. They weren’t even trying to hide from the photographer and her fellow divers.
There is a video showing the capture of a Lionfish by a diver with speargun and mesh bag