Florida Keys / Snorkeling

Lion fish: Like a horror movie for South Florida waters

Lionfish by Gustavo Duran via Flickr

Lionfish (Photo: Gustavo Duran via Flickr)

It sounds like a bad sci fi movie:  An alien invades paradise and voraciously gobbles up 90 percent of its inhabitants. The natives don’t even feel afraid; they do not recognize the beautiful alien as a threat.  Thankfully, a brave, blonde scientist is working feverishly to find a way to fight the menace.

It’s happening now in South Florida and the Caribbean with the lion fish invasion.

I  thought I knew about lion fish, but I learned a lot  from this fascinating PBS documentary, part of WPBT2’s Changing Seas series.

For example:  This invasive species,  prized in salt-water aquariums and originally from the Pacific and Indian oceans, has found Atlantic and Caribbean waters to be an even better place to live than its original home. Here, lion fish are growing to monstrous sizes – some are 3 feet long, according to the PBS video.

They eat anything that fits in their mouths, swallowing their prey whole. Their gluttony is made possible by their stretchy stomachs:  A lion fish’s stomach can expand to 30 times its normal size when it’s eating.

The video offers up several reasons for optimism. It explains the interesting scientific experiments tha are being conducted to develop strategies to control lion fish.

It also points out that this is one environmental problem people can do something about. If you’re a diver, you can spear them.  And, even better, lion fish are delicious; they taste like snapper.

In Bermuda, the motto is: Eat ‘em to beat ‘em.

Here’s the video and, if you want to taste lion fish, here are a few places in the Florida Keys that put them on the menu.


Watch Alien Invaders on PBS. See more from CHANGING SEAS.

More information about lion fish and what you can do:

Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF).


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