Today, millions of lionfish are thriving in the Atlantic, with high concentrations in the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Since there is no natural predator, lionfish are reproducing explosively. Scientists believe they lay 30,000 eggs every 7 days!
More importantly, lionfish are voracious predators of important juvenile fish and crustaceans native to the Caribbean, such as grouper, snapper, grunts, and crabs. Dissections of lionfish captured by divers have shown up to 18 different juvenile fish in a single lionfish’s stomach.
Lionfish have venomous spines and their exotic , unfamiliar, appearance may fool small fish into swimming too close. They swallow their prey whole. While their spines contain a painful venom, the flesh is delicious-white, mild and perfectly safe to eat.
- Voracious predators being shown to eat native fish and crustaceans in large quantities. (Juvenile Nassau grouper have been found in lionfish stomachs in the Bahamas)
- Not known to have any native predators.
- Equipped with venomous dorsal, ventral and anal spines, which deter predators and can cause painful wounds in humans.
- Capable of reproducing year-round with unique reproduction mechanisms not commonly found in native fishes.
- Relatively resistant to parasites, giving them another advantage over native species.
- Fast in their growth, able to outgrow native species with whom they compete for food and space.