Invasion of the Lionfish
The lionfish invasion was first thought to have been caused when Hurricane Andrew destroyed a beachside aquarium in South Florida in 1992. But a recent report from NOAA ecologist, Dr. James A. Morris, Jr., reveals that a Lionfish was captured off the coast of Dania, Florida as far back as 1985.
Persuasion of this Invasion!
Morris indicated this was more than likely caused by the release of fish and eggs into the wild by aquarium owners and people in the aquarium trade. DNA from captured lionfish in this region shows that all originated from the same six or seven fish. The Pterois volitans lionfish (or red lionfish) have been found in waters as far north as Long Island, New York, where as 'tropical fish' they would never be expected to survive, yet somehow they have. Once established, they will destroy our reefs and throw the entire ecosystem out of balance. This change will threaten lobster, grouper, snapper, and many other mammals that call these waters their home. The effects will be devastating," said Tom Jackson of 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 all together. "In 2003 alone, nearly 8,000 lionfish were imported to the Tampa area, but it only takes 15 or 20 released into one area to create a population," said Jackson. Volunteer divers are being recruited to help stop the invasion of this species into our South Florida waters, but these divers will require additional training, and this training requires additional funding.
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