Invasive Lionfish Move into Virgin Islands National Park


Image credit: Serge Melki/Flickr
Wild boar, kudzu, and cane toads are among the world's most infamous invasive species—and they're about to be joined by one more: the lionfish.

Native to the Pacific, invasive lionfish in the Caribbean are wreaking havoc on local ecosystems—and now, their range is spreading.
Image credit: coda/Flickr

On July 15 a lionfish was spotted near the US Virgin Islands. The next day, a team of NOAA divers returned to the area and captured the fish within 10 meters of the original location.

Rafe Boulon, Chief of Resource Management for the Virgin Islands National Park, explained that:

Lionfish pose a huge threat to the coral reef ecosystems of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The native fish populations are essentially defenseless in the face of this threat. And once established, lionfish are very difficult to control

Though lionfish were first observed in the Virgin Islands in 2008—and have been spotted as far north as the coast of North Carolina—they have yet to establish themselves in these northern locations. Farther south, off the coast of Belize and many of the Caribbean islands, however, these fish have become pervasive pests that threaten to wipe out entire reef ecosystems.

NOAA scientists hope that a massive fishing campaign—motivated by the "Eat lionfish" slogan—will help stop the spread of the species.

Read more about lionfish:
Eating Lionfish May Be the Only Way to Stop their Caribbean Invasion
Diners Dig Into Invasive Lionfish, But Do They Really Care About Saving Coral Reefs?
Non-Native Lionfish Move to Florida Keys, Eat Everything, Won't Go Home
Read more about invasive species:
Eating Aliens: Are Invasive Species Ethical Food?
Eat The Enemy: Invasive Squirrel Introduced As 'Ethical Food' In UK Butcher Shops
Epic Fail: Efforts to Fight Invasive Species Could Cause 'Ecosystem Meltdown'
The World's Most Lovable Invasive Species (Slideshow)

Tags: Conservation | Fish

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