Deadly Lionfish Invade South Florida waters
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    Oct 2004
    Orlando, Florida
    Minelab Excal 1000 + AQUA PULSE
    14 times

    Deadly Lionfish Invade South Florida waters

    Old news but worth mentioning
    Be careful where you walk and dive these Fish don't Purr!

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    Deadly Lionfish Invade South Florida Waters
    June 17, 2008
    Release from: Jeff Burnside

    Top scientists are warning about an impending invasion of a poisonous fish into South Florida's waters.

    The lionfish, a native of the Pacific Ocean, is both gorgeous and dangerous.

    Many people may never have seen a lionfish in the waters surrounding South Florida, but that will soon change.

    Scientists don't use the word "invasion" lightly, but that's exactly what they are predicting of the exotic-looking lionfish.

    The poisonous tips on the lionfish's fins could present a danger to people who swim, dive or work in the South Florida waters.

    Aquarium manager Anthony Bartolome said he has been stung five times by lionfish.

    "It pretty much burns like fire," Bartolome said.

    The pain from a lionfish sting lasts for about 15 to 20 minutes.

    The lionfish's sting is so serious that it can send victims to the hospital and even kill them.

    "There is no anti-venom for this," said Lad Akins, the Executive Director of Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF).

    Experts are so concerned about the impending invasion of lionfish that they are desperately trying to warn the public.

    "They're also very bold fish, especially in this new Atlantic range where it appears that they have few, if any, predators," Akins stated.

    Lionfish have no predators because they do not belong in the Atlantic.

    There is nothing here to eat them and nothing to stop them from eating South Florida's reef fish.

    When lionfish grow too big, aquarium owners begin dumping the fish right into the Atlantic.

    Now they are breeding at a rapid pace, experts said.

    Scientists and volunteers are feverishly trying to fight the invasion of lionfish.

    To do this, they are studying, and killing, the lionfish, now found in deep and shallow water.

    Experts believe that lionfish in the Bahamas and in Cancun, Mexico, will, as larvae, make their way to South Florida on the ocean currents.

    Once established, they will start destroying reefs and throwing the ecosystem out of balance.

    This change will threaten the lobster, grouper, snapper, and many more animals that call these waters their home.

    New studies headed by Mark Hixon of Oregon State University that are about to be published in a peer-reviewed science journal found one lionfish can deplete 79 percent of a reef in just five weeks.

    That means coral ecology dies and algae takes over.

    "You know the potential is there for it to be devastating," said Tom Jackson with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    Jackson's job is to track invasive species and creatures that can sometimes change and destroy a vital ecosystem.

    His personal opinion is that it would be best to ban the sale of lionfish completely.

    "In 2003, nearly 8,000 were imported to Tampa alone, 8,000. You only need 15 or 20 in one area to create a population," Jackson said.

    Volunteers are being recruited to help stop the invasion of this species into the South Florida waters.



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