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The Atlantic’s Great Menace: How Venomous Lionfish Invaded From Across the World

Source: Futurity/Texas A&M University - December 25, 2017 in Environment

The Atlantic’s Great Menace: How Venomous Lionfish Invaded From Across the World
Photo: Michael Gäbler/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)

While researchers initially estimated 9 or 10 lionfish began the species invasion of the Atlantic Ocean, a new study suggests that number was closer to 180.

For more than a decade, lionfish have created a global problem by invading the United States Atlantic coastal waters, the Gulf Coast, and the Caribbean Sea. In addition to destroying native fish and plants, lionfish are capable of harming the economy.

The first local sighting was at South Packery Jetty Beach, which is between Mustang Island and Padre Island, in 2013. Locally, lionfish live around structures like piers and jetties, but also make off-shore oil and gas platforms their homes.

“A primary concern for Corpus Christi is that they compete for food with many of the commercially and recreationally important fish, like red snapper,” says Christopher Bird, assistant professor in the life sciences department of at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. “People who encounter and handle lionfish also have the risk of a painful, but not deadly, sting from venom injected by the fish’s spines.”

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