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Atlantic Coral Reefs Are No Match for This Lion

Photo of lionfish and other fish.

Lionfish (Pterois volitans/miles complex) are venomous coral reef fishes from the Indian and western Pacific oceans that have invaded East Coast waters. Lionfish were likely first introduced off the Florida coast in the early to mid 1990s, and by the summer of 2000 were found along the Atlantic coast of the United States from Florida to Cape Hatteras, N.C.

Credit: NOAA

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Professor of zoology Mark Hixon of Oregon State University describes the deadly rampage of escaped red lion fish in Atlantic and Caribbean coral reefs. Released from aquaria, the red lion fish has spread along the south Atlantic seaboard, Bahamas and Caribbean. They are incredibly effective predators and a threat to the health of the reefs. Research conducted in the Bahamas shows that a single lionfish reduces the abundance of juvenile fish by 80 percent.

Credit: Video: Oregon State University/National Science Foundation
Underwater footage: Mark Albins, Oregon State University