An exotic/invasive species originating from the Indo-Pacific region, Lionfish have no native predators in the Western Atlantic, except for humans!
Divers and marine scientists have reported eels, groupers, and sharks devouring the venomous Lionfish. However, this typically occurs when a diver presents a speared Lionfish to the other carnivores. A recent study by Jud and Layman found that:
“Native prey species may not recognize lionfish as predators, allowing the invaders to successfully hunt from a fixed location without having to actively forage for elusive prey. Furthermore, lionfish may not be recognized as prey by native predators, reducing the frequency of movements associated with predator avoidance” (2012).
Sounds like the Lionfish have it made here…prey don’t know they’re a threat and predators don’t know they’re a tasty meal!
WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
Lionfish are a threat to important commercial fisheries such as Snapper & Grouper because they consume the same food. If Lionfish populations continue to grow, other reef fish populations will decline.
(Map of Established Lionfish Populations)
WHAT CAN PEOPLE DO TO HELP? EAT MORE LIONFISH!