Lionfish Now Invading The Mediterranean Sea

Lionfish
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If you thought Lionfish were a problem only off South Florida and the Caribbean, think again.

The Mediterranean Sea is the latest area to see a Lionfish invasion, with the invasive species having colonized Cyprus’ southeast coast over the past year, according to the academic journal Marine Biodiversity Records.

The recent widening of the Suez Canal and an increase in water temperatures are possible reasons for the fish’s presence, the journal states:

“Until now, few sightings of the alien lionfish Pterois miles have been reported in the Mediterranean and it was questionable whether the species could invade this region like it has in the western Atlantic. Here, we present evidence from divers and fishermen that lionfish have recently increased in abundance and within a year colonised almost the entire south eastern coast of Cyprus, likely due to sea surface warming. At least 23 different fish are reported of which 6 were removed. Groups of lionfish exhibiting mating behaviour have been noted for the first time in the Mediterranean. Managers need this information and should alert stakeholders to the potential ecological and socio-economic impacts that may arise from a lionfish invasion.”

Map of Lionfish sightings off Cyprus. (Source: Marine Biodiversity Records)
Map of Lionfish sightings off Cyprus. (Source: Marine Biodiversity Records)

Engaging divers and fishermen in lionfish removal programs, like the ones that have worked in the Caribbean, could be a solution, according to the journal, which warns:

“Given that the Suez Canal has recently been widened and deepened, measures will need to be put in place to help prevent further invasion.”

At the very least, Whole Foods could get a new source of Lionfish to sell.

To read the full report, go to mbr.biomedcentral.com.

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