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We Can Help, Report Atlantic lionfish sightings

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#21 NormByers


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Posted 31 December 2006 - 10:37 AM

I just got back from North Andros where I have a cottage. I didn't see any there when living there back in the late 1980's, but just this Christmas (last week), our neighborhood snorkelers saw several. I get there only a couple of weeks a year now, but talking to a number of local commercial dive fishermen I discovered the Lionfish are seen regularly with greater and greater frequency. They say they've been seeing them since the mid 1990's. It sounds like they're apparently at least all over the North Andros reef system and up through the Joulter Cays and Berry Islands. I don't know about the status in Central and South Andros. Nonetheless, it appears to be a massive invasion. One fisherman told me he'd just seen a whole bunch of "baby" lionfish. Some of the fishermen are starting to kill them - especially after finding out they may like young grouper. (I wonder if they could capture and sell them for aquariums?).

I've heard unsubstantiated rumors (and I must reiterate "rumours"), that some were accidently released from the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island (Nassau). I've heard other speculation they came ouf of ships ballast tanks, and others that they ended up in the Gulf Stream off Northern Africa and were carried to the Caribbean and Western Alantic - perhaps originating in the Red Sea and coming thru the Suez. I doubt the latter since one might then perhaps expect to have first seen a pattern of propogation starting in the Mediterranean, then NE South America, then following the GS around the western Caribbean until finally spreading to Florida and up the coast.

#22 Glasseye Snapper

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Posted 31 December 2006 - 11:44 AM

I have heard a hopeful story. A fisherman reported that when he was cleaning a grouper he had caught, he found a lionfish inside. I hope that is true. Since they are very slow and easy to catch, they may make a good food source if they find a way to safely eat them.

In Ned and Anna Deloach's reef fish behaviour book it is mentioned that longlure frogfish regularly eat (native) scorpionfish. Perhaps they can develop a liking for the pacific intruders as well.

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#23 meister


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Posted 03 February 2007 - 01:54 PM

Here's a couple of Lionfish we spotted last August off Conception Island, Bahamas. The juvenile is translucent to the extend internal organs can be visualized on the full-size jpeg. Sighting has been reported to REEF.

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#24 shawnh


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Posted 04 February 2007 - 10:42 PM

we just saw a number of lion fish in the west banks of the bahamas...i think they are becomming pretty common now.
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#25 RickI



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Posted 26 March 2008 - 08:19 PM

I suspect lots of us have seen quite a few lionfish since the post was first made. I just put together a video clip of one I saw in Bimini, Bahamas in July 2007. There are also photos and descriptions of sightings off Andros later that summer. More at:


#26 Scubaskeeter


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Posted 03 April 2008 - 04:54 PM

Yes, I saw one East of Nassau harbor, at the Blue Hole, the guides said it probably escaped the hotel aquarium as larvae, even though there is a "filter". I can't find on any site where there is an estimate of 1 million lionfish in the Atlantic, that just seems high since the first sighting was in 1998 or so.

We should kill exotics on sight. Too many times we have let invasives passively come in as curiosities, only to cause enormous problems later. Grass carp, european buckthorn, lampreys, starlings and zebra mussels to name a few. Can you imagine being the first Atlantic grouper to discover lionfish?

I have heard from people at government and NGO's that the official policy is to report, but unofficially they wanted the lionfish dead. They don't offically advocate killing because the critters are venomous and might incur a liability for the agency posting kill recommendation.

My lionfish position is vindicated, but I take no pleasure in this. I do not condone wanton killing of anything. Why is it we are slow to react to invasive species if they are pretty? Most of us wouldn't think twice about chopping the head off a lamprey in Lake Michigan.

"Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Larry Cartwright has given the
green light for Bahamians to kill lionfish on sight, but those
uninitiated with the poison spines of the fish will probably be best
off leaving them alone and reporting the sightings to the department of
fisheries or to the College of Bahamas' Marine Environmental Studies
Institute, which plans on collecting sighting surveys."


#27 Halabriel


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Posted 25 April 2008 - 01:59 PM

I'd be interested if anyone has figured out what the lionfish are eating in their new habitat ,and the level of risk that they may outcompete indigenous predators in this new environment.


This is becoming an enormous problem. I live in Bermuda, and 7 years ago the first live P. volitans was captured in Bermuda waters. In 2001 a local hobbyist entered a lionfish in Bermuda's Agricultural Exhibition, swearing he had collected it from a tide pool. Nobody believed him until later that year when divers spotted more of the same on the Island's reefs. Now they are so common that I see one at least on every dive that I guide.

Lionfish in Bermuda have become such a problem that we are seeing a fall in the numbers of small fish, specifically those usually associated with cleaning stations. There is now an eradication program in place. It is feared that decimation of cleaning stations will result in disease in the larger fish.


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