Updated 08:42 AM EST, Sun, Dec 04, 2016
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Invasive Lionfish a Growing Threat to Mediterranean Marine Biodiversity and Sea Life

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Lionfish - Pterois miles
Common lionfish (Pterois miles) at Shaab El Erg reef in the Egyptian Red Sea (landscape crop)
(Photo : Alexander Vasenin)

Scores of lionfish are slowly occupying the Mediterranean Sea and this could spell disaster. Their swelling numbers in the Caribbean killed numerous coral reefs and decreased native fish population. Experts say this imbalance will upset marine ecology and, in the long run, marine trade and fishery.

Lionfish Invasion, Disaster & Consequence

The lionfish are arriving in scores in the Mediterranean Sea. According to Dr. Jason Hall-Spencer of Plymouth University, the lionfish may be multiplying quickly too as they are seen "exhibiting mating behavior."

The invasion of the carnivorous fish was made easier with the widening and deepening of the Suez Canal, Hall-Spencer said in a press release. The warming of the sea also made it favorable for lionfish to invade the Mediterranean.

Marine scientists are alarmed as lionfish can reproduce quickly and prey mostly on fish and other crustaceans. The lionfish has a venomous spine, which discourages a lot of predators. Their infallibility to being preyed on and their fast maturation can greatly affect the biodiversity of the area.

A study on how the lionfish traveled to the coast of Cyprus, through the Suez Canal and to the Mediterranean is published on Marine Biodiversity Records.

Lionfish Have Imbalanced Caribbean Sea Biodiversity

The reason why scientists are concerned about spotting waves of lionfish in the Mediterranean is because their arrival at the Caribbean will reduce its biodiversity. The carnivorous fish have dominated 80-miles long of coastline in Cyprus. The invasion caused the destruction of coral reefs, quick decline of other fish populations and out-of-control seaweed growth.

Furthermore, the lionfish had no natural predators in the Caribbean, which is why the scientists were having a hard time controlling its population.

Mediterranean Sea in Danger

The lionfish would have had decent predators in the Mediterranean if it weren't for overfishing, Hall-Spencer said. The solution to the impending invasion of lionfish is to act on it quickly to be able to have a decent chance to prevent it from dominating the sea.

Marine scientists say that one of the many ways to get rid of lionfish is to encourage its selling and consumption. While the fish have poisonous fins, it can be removed and can be eaten like any normal fish. However, a setback is that they can be difficult to capture as they cannot be lured using normal fishing lines.

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