Details of this species in Florida (USA)
Source: Albins & Hixon 2008
Arrival Date: 1985
Species Notes for this Location:
The first confirmed record of lionfish occurrence in the USA was a specimen taken by a lobster fisherman off Dania, Florida in October 1985 (Morris and Akins In Press, in Schofield 2009). Lionfish introduction was likely the result of aquarium releases (Courtenay 1995, USGS-NAS 2009, in González et al. 2009).Today, lionfish have become a ubiquitous presence on the reefs of Florida and Bahamas (Dell 2009).
Management Notes for this Location:
The current geographic range and rapid population growth of the lionfish in the Atlantic makes complete eradication of this species untenable; nonetheless, it would be prudent for impacted nations to initiate targeted lionfish control (Albins & Hixon 2008). Sustained effort to reduce lionfish densities at key locations, including vulnerable and valuable reef areas, may help to mitigate their ecological impact (Hare & Whitfield 2003, in Albins & Hixon 2008). Recovering healthy populations of potential native predators of lionfish, such as large grouper and sharks, may also help to reduce the effects of these invasive predators (Albins & Hixon 2008), however, some controversy does exist in terms of their status as lionfish predators (please see this informative video of the Bermuda culling program featuring an interview with Chris Flook (Bermuda Aquarium Museum & Zoo) on YouTube).
Competition: P. volitans may compete with native predators (Albins & Hixon 2008).
Ecosystem change: This invasive carnivore may cause deleterious changes in coral-reef ecosystems via predation on native fishes and invertebrates (Albins & Hixon 2008). Albins and Hixon (2008) conducted a controlled field experiment to examine the short-term effects of lionfish on the recruitment of native reef fishes in the Bahamas. Lionfish caused significant reductions in the recruitment of native fishes by an average of 79% over the 5 wk duration of the experiment. This strong effect on a key life stage of coral-reef fishes suggests that invasive lionfish are already having substantial negative impacts on Atlantic coral reefs.
Human health: Divers around Florida are being exposed to a new hazard - the beautiful but poisonous lionfish (Pterois volitans). The poison released by their sharp spines can cause extremely painful stings to humans - even leading to fatalities for some people with heart problems or allergic reactions (IUCN 2009).
Last Modified: 15/02/2010 1:10:22 p.m.