Why We Cull

Learn the importance of culling

What is all this fuss about Lionfish?

Most people know by now that Lionfish (Pterois Volitans) are an invasive species in the Caribbean! They are a beautiful fish and do not cause a problem in their native environment where they have natural predators. They are native to the Indo-pacific oceans and the Red sea.

Introducing the Lionfish to the Atlantic and Caribbean has turned out to be one of the cruelest and potentially catastrophic tricks ever played on an ecosystem!

Invasive lionfish are out-breeding, out-competing and out-living native fish stocks and other marine species. The consequences impact the food security and economies affecting over a hundred million people.

Experts speculate that the Lionfish got into the SE coast of the USA, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean from people dumping their unwanted Lionfish from home aquariums into the Atlantic Ocean for up to 25 years.

Their average lifespan is 15 years. Female Lionfish reach sexual maturity and will release eggs when they reach 7 to 8 inches in length, or approximately one year old.

A female Lionfish can release between 10,000 and 30,000 unfertilized eggs every 4 days year around, approximately 2 million eggs per year! The egg sac contains a chemical deterrent that discourages other fish from eating the eggs.

A single Lionfish may reduce the number of juvenile native fish by approximately 79% in just 5 weeks!

Data collected is showing that Lionfish will eat anything that they can fit into their mouths. Their stomach can expand up to 30 times the normal volume and a Lionfish will fill it up to capacity as soon as it is able! Scientists have catalogued over 70 different species that lionfish will eat through stomach content analysis. In addition to the fish they eat, they also eat invertebrates and molluscs – shrimp, crabs, juvenile octopus, squid, juvenile lobster, etc.

Coral and algae fight for photosynthesis to survive. The grazer fish, such as Parrotfish, will feed on the algae. This helps keep coral reefs alive. Now we have Lionfish feeding on juvenile Parrotfish, fish stocks are reduced AND the health of the coral reefs are in jeopardy!

Studies have shown that a Lionfish can go without food for 3 months or longer and only lose 10% of their body mass.

Lionfish have 18 venomous spines that can easily penetrate human skin and give a very painful sting. Tough Fishermen have been seen crying from the pain! Recommended first aid for a Lionfish sting is to remove any broken spines, disinfect the wound and apply non-scalding hot water for 30-90 minutes. Monitor for signs of allergic reaction. Give the patient anti-histamine and a strong painkiller! There are no known cases of human fatality from a Lionfish sting.

Lionfish is venomous not poisonous! The meat is extremely tasty and restaurants are now featuring delicious Lionfish recipes on their menus.

Here is the bottom line!

 If left unchecked lionfish will ultimately cause the destruction of the reefs, native fish stocks and the livelihoods of everyone that depend upon them.

 How can you help?

Order Lionfish from restaurants, buy Lionfish products such as the earrings and if you are a Scuba diver, make your next trip a Lionfish culling trip.

Polly Alford

Founder & Director and Lionfish Hunter!

ReefCI

CREDIT


Fact #1

Diligence is the key to successfully keeping lionfish in check here, since these invasive fish can lay up to 30,000 eggs every four days.

Fact #2

Lionfish are voracious eaters that consume the juvenile fish maintaining the reef. Their stomach can expand up to 30 times its normal volume and a they will keep eating until its stomach is filled to capacity.

Fact #3

Once the baby reef fish are gone, the reef can die from the build-up of algae that the smaller fish would have normally consumed.

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