Tableau at the Georgia Aquarium.
A native of the Indo-Pacific Ocean and the Red Sea, the lionfish has no known predators. It is believed to have been released by aquarists sometime in the 1990s and has since spread up the East Coast to North Carolina and through the Caribbean.
Scientists say the fish can produce 30,000 eggs in a single spawning event, and can spawn as frequently as every four days. “That means we’re looking at annual output of two million eggs per female,” says Lad Akins, a research diver and the director of operations with the Reef Environmental Education Foundation, or Reef.
Scientists and policy makers are at a loss as to how to eradicate the fish, a goal that a 2003 report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says is “nearly impossible.” The only hope, say officials, is some form of local control.
One potential solution is to promote the fish as food for another voracious predator: man. Lionfish are considered excellent eating. Indeed, after the lionfish derby here, participants feasted on fried lionfish nuggets.
—NY Times, Nov 23, 2010
Photo: Lionfish—Atlanta, 2010