Lionfish may look attractive with their super bright and colorful appearance, but you should stay away from them like the plague. They can deliver a very painful sting, which injects you with a venom that is sure to leave the area of the inflicted wound with a nasty wound.
The species of fish is native to regions in the Pacific and Indian oceans, and have even been noted to colonize in areas near South America and the Gulf of Mexico, but more and more sightings of the fish are being noted in the Mediterranean Sea, a place where increasing curiosity is striking experts.
So how are they getting there?
It has been rare in the last several decades to see a lionfish in the area, but it would happen occasionally. Nevertheless, it seems that sightings have become more and more regular over the course of the last several years.
In fact, some have gone as far as to argue that the species has set up habitation inside of the Mediterranean Sea. Now, it’s just a matter of figuring out how the species managed to migrate from its native location, to a place where they’re never really been known to thrive…
A study published in Marine Biodiversity Records suggests that the lionfish are not only in a place where they are not native to, but they are actually making it into their home; they’re effectively invading the area.
“Until now, few sightings of the alien lionfish Pterois miles have been reported in the Mediterranean and it was questionable whether the species could invade this region like it has in the western Atlantic,” says Mr Demetris Kletou, of the Marine & Environmental Research Lab, in Limassol, Cyprus.
“But we’ve found that lionfish have recently increased in abundance, and within a year have colonised almost the entire south eastern coast of Cyprus, assisted by sea surface warming.”
It was not thought that they would even be able to survive in such a place, considering that the water temperatures are actually colder than where they’re native to, but nevertheless, it seems that notion was incorrect.
Lionfish have managed to colonize the entire Eastern coast of Cyprus, suggesting that the conditions in the area are far more habitable for the species than originally thought. They’ve even been observed exhibiting mating-like behavior, which suggests that not only are they making it home, but they’re thriving and multiplying there as well.
One or some specimens of the fish may have been misplaced there, and it could have caused a domino effect. One lionfish lays up to 2 million lionfish every single year, which means it’s easy for the species to reproduce. Moreover, currents from the water can move these eggs over a great distance, allowing them to spread.
In some regions, lionfish are considered an invasive species. As a result, there are measures in place to keep their populations down to protect other marine species. Such measures include programs where divers and fishermen are free to remove as many from the water as they like.
Lionfish are edible, so it’s not surprising to see them being added to more and more seafood restaurant menus across the globe. Perhaps this is another event that will trigger even more restaurants to have more lionfish available for the everyday sit-down restaurant.
Source: Plymouth University, Science News, National Geographic,