This guest blog was written by Don Stark, an Aquarium volunteer, avid scuba diver and frequent Bahamas Collecting Expedition trip participant. Stay tuned for more posts and pictures from expedition participants and staff diver Chris.
Indo-Pacific lionfish have become an abundant invasive species throughout the tropical eastern Atlantic and Caribbean seas. They are now recognized as one of the most important conservation issues in the world. [We've been talking about lionfish for some time on this blog.]
Lionfish on exhibit at the Aquarium
This is because, lacking any natural predators and with voracious appetites and impressive reproductive skills, lionfish could become the most abundant fish species on coral reefs, displacing many other species that contribute to the health of coral reefs.
An impressive lionfish, photographed at 25 ft on Rainbow Reef, Bimini
Recently, efforts to manage this invasion have taken the form of creating a fishery for lionfish and a demand from the fish eating public. The good news is they are great to eat. [Check out this previous post about sampling lionfish here!] Dining on them can be one way to deal with lionfish, as long as consumers don't develop such a taste for them that they want to keep lionfish around just to eat them. At the end of the day, it will take the hard work of everyone--scientists, conservationists, fishermen and chefs, to help eradicate lionfish from areas where they don't belong.