Invasive Lionfish: Eat Up

Lionfish have always been a prime species in aquariums with their intricate colorful patterns and unusual fins. However, due to these Indo-Pacific natives being released into the Gulf of Mexico and their super predator nature, native fish like snappers, grunts and groupers have been diminished. Specifically, species that are helpful for reefs such as algae eating bacteria are being consumed by Lionfishes. In the Bahamas between 2008 and 2010 Lionfish reduced the biomass of 42 other fishes by an average of 65 percent. A Lionfish’s  diverse appetite, massive reproductive abilities and lack of interest from native predators allow their great success in these warm temperate and tropical Atlantic reefs.

pasted image 0In order to curb the problem of invasive Lionfishes, conservationists have begun recreational and commercial harvesting the predatory species for food to decrease the populations. For example, a one-day derby event in Florida Keys, participants caught 1,400 lionfishes and reduced the local population by 60 percent. These derbies have been one of the most effective tool for population suppression at a local scale. As a bonus, Lionfish consumption has up ticked and chefs have dedicated dishes to these prickly fishes. The goal is for humans to eat their way out of this Lionfish problem. Lionfish are nutritious and detailed to be delicious with their sweet and flaky meat.

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Another initiative that is being developed is the deployment of fish fighting robots to combat Lionfish. Robots in Service of the Environment, the inventors of this new technology,  designed the robots to stun and capture Lionfish at depths that human divers are incapable of reaching. The robot is about three and a half feet long and about 20 pounds. It is equipped with a camera and controlled by a digital tablet operated at the surface. The robot is capable of collecting up to 10 lionfishes on each dive and is done by probing two 14 inch electrical probes.  Unique solutions like such are essential in mitigating environmental concerns for a modernizing world.

Sources: vhttps://gizmodo.com/lionfish-are-eating-fish-we-didnt-even-know-existed-1796270655

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/does-eating-lionfish-work/

http://news.wgcu.org/post/invasive-lionfish-next-grouper

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21 thoughts on “Invasive Lionfish: Eat Up

  1. This is an interesting article. There are so many of these stories of pets being released into the wilderness and having a significant negative impact on the surrounding ecosystem. This reminds me of the pythons that are taking over Florida. People figure out that they don’t want a pet snake anymore and just release it to the wild. They do hold annual python hunts in order to curb the population much like the lion fish derbies. People don’t realize the effects they are putting on their environment when they release an animal. I think the way to stop this is to flat out not sell the animals that are going to harm the environment if release. People do not need a snake nor a lion fish as a pet.

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    1. This is an interesting article. I knew that the Lionfish are predatory species that tend to kick out/ kill off native species. I didn’t know that humans introduced a lot of the new species into the Gulf and other various ecosystems. I think this is a prime example of what happens when humans interfere with the species in a given ecosystem. We always talk about the endangered species, but we rarely talk about the predatory species taking over other ecosystems. I think this article makes a good point that we should be protecting our ecosystems from the danger of new species. We introduced this problem, so it should be up to us to fix it.

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  2. I really enjoyed this article, and the different ways the Lionfish issue were solved. Although it is often humans fault for many different ecosystem problems, I like that we find solutions for it. The question is however, will our technological advancements and solutions always be enough to counteract our negative impact on the environment. The answer to this question is clearly no for now, but with many new problems arising it is up to us to fix them.

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  3. I wonder what the long term impact of the derbies actual is. I imagine the prey fish spike in population, but do the lion fish just take back over each time or do the native species like snapper regain some of their lost numbers. I does seem like we can specifically target lion fish so hopefully populations can stay locally in check in the near future.

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  4. I enjoyed reading your article about this growing problem with Lion-fishes. I remember seeing an article about how delicious lion fish were and the safety of eating them. At first, i thought, because they were venomous, that there were hazards with consuming them but I recently discovered that it is indeed safe once you remove the spine of the fish.

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  5. I did not realize how resilient lion fish were! It really stinks that we are having to fix a problem that we could have avoided in the first place. I think using robots is a great way to decrease the population. If such technology is used instead of introducing a predator to the lion fish, we avoid the possibility of the introduced predator causing another imbalance in the ecosystem,

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  6. That is so interesting that a species like this is considered invasive and the negative impacts they are having in the ocean. I’m glad to see that some areas are being proactive in trying to reduce the amount of lionfish before it comes a catastrophic event where they might cause a huge imbalance in the ecosystem they live in.

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  7. I’ve been diving a few times in the caribbean and have seen several lion fishes. In areas where reefs are already dying its just one more thing hurting them. I wonder if some sort of bounty system could have a positive effect.

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  8. This is really interesting because most people would seem a little concerned if they saw a massive hunt for such a unique looking fish. However I do agree that aggressively invasive need to be dealt with before the preexisting environment is irreversibly altered. Also I am curious about possibly introducing a natural predator to the lion fish would help or actually make the situation worse.

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  9. This reminds me of a similar problem in the Galapagos with goats. The invasive species took over the island (the situation was far more advanced than the stage of the lionfish problem now). They basically went in and exterminated the goats like what they are doing to the lionfish. Ecologists were worried about the impacts of not only killing this many animals at a time, but also exporting the meat and removing such a massive amount biomass from the ecosystem. Even the field manager of the extermination project said, “It could be very destructive, like removing 10,000 trees from a rainforest.” I feel that the lionfish extermination project could have a similar effect on Florida coastal ecosystems, especially since the fish have already weakened it.

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  10. I never knew lion fish were an invasive species, but it sounds like they are causing a serious problem. Both of the solutions proposed in your article are very cool to me. I would love to particpate in a lion fish roundup, similar to what they do with pythons in the everglades. Also, the lion fish killing robot is pretty awesome.

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  11. Seeing this beautiful fish at the Georgia Aquarium, it doesn’t surprise me it would get moved to the Gulf of Mexico by someone who loved its pretty patterns, but in the same area, it surprises me other predatory fish don’t also find them attractive. I wonder if studies could be performed to begin introducing Lion Fish to predators of the Gulf? This would help nature to stabilize itself without human intervention; therefore, giving the Lion Fish and other species in the marine environment a chance at peaceful survival.

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  12. The idea of a lionfish awareness outreach program to promote the (safe) harvesting of these venomous fish and then teaching of ways to prepare it is a smart and viable solution to an ecological problem. Certain Florida Whole Foods have started offering the invasive fish in their seafood depts. Maybe the lionfish can follow the path of the lobster and go from being a sort of “garbage” fish into being a fine dining option, increasing the demand to extract them from troubled waters.

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  13. Funnily enough, trying to eat our way out of an ecosystem imbalance doesn’t just stop with lion fish. A similar idea has been proposed with kudzu, but I don’t think it ever took off. Hopefully the lion fish initiative will be more successful, especially since reefs are in such a dangerous balance right now.

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  14. Interesting article! I went diving on the Mesoamerican Reef off the coast of Honduras a few months ago, and lionfish are also highly invasive in that area. (They are super cool to look at underwater though). In Honduras, hunting lion fish has become almost a sport – a lot of the regular divers there paid for licenses to be able to spear them.

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  15. Eating our way is for sure a potential to solve animal issues. We already do this with deer. We tried to start by releasing coyote now coyote are a seperate issue. I personally do not want to start eating coyote. Deer is where i draw the line. Invasive species issues will continue to cause problems and many solutions will need to be found.

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  16. Lion fish meat, if prepared correctly is safe and good to eat. I bet if we could turn its image from pretty and poisonous, to pretty and poisonous and DELICIOUS then that would really help suppress its population in the area. I can easily see it as a luxury food item in upper scale restaurants. If we can convince a few gourmet chefs to begin serving lion fish in their restaurants I think that it could really catch on and be a real solution to the problem.

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  17. This article was quite eyeopening. I know so many examples of terrestrial invasive species, but I hadn’t heard an example of an invading aquatic species until now. The prevalence of lionfish in the gulf is a concerning problem, and the local fishing derbys have the potential to both reduce lionfish populations, while also potentially promoting the local restaurant restaurant industry. However, technology that uses electricity to stun it’s targets is something I have reservations about. I am worried that other organisms that we seek to protect from lionfish may be unintentionally harmed by these robots, either due to operator error or machine malfunction.

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  18. Excessive consumption of an organism for once seems like the best route to control lionfish population. I think to help with this process, blogposts, articles, and other media outlets with this information is important. It will bring awareness to the issue and increase the number of lionfish consumers and harvesters. For example, I was unaware that lionfish have a good taste/texture until I read this post. Now that I am aware of this, I really want to try one of these fish.

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  19. This reminds me of the issue of invasive Asian carp in American waters. There is a movement specially aimed at eating invasives. My parents always say that in China, most invasives wouldn’t be a problem because people are resourceful and eat a lot of different things. (Like carp are a delicacy there.) It does attest to the sheer privilege of Western and tourist-based countries that it is a *surprise* to just eat a tasty animal that is successful without even needing to be raised. On a side note, when my best friend was on vacation, she and her family actually caught some lionfish and got paid a bounty for turning them into local restaurants. Pretty cool! Thanks for the article.

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  20. In high school I did a research project of the acidification of the coral reefs and my findings were similar in a way to what you found about Lionfish. They are the same in that due to human’s disregard for the eco system there is a terrible ripple effect, that will eventually effect us on land.

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