Venomous Lionfish Invade South Florida Waters
VoneResearch.org and LionfishHunters.org
Help Save Our Reefs
Through the mist in the early morning hours the Vŏnē Research Vessel makes its way out to sea carrying a small group of volunteers who are on a mission. A mission to find and capture one of the most beautiful yet dreaded invaders ever introduced to our South Florida waters; the lionfish.
There have been a reported 68 different invading marine species found throughout Florida, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico over the last century according to the U.S. Geological Survey, but none have wreaked as much havoc on the marine environment as the voracious red lionfish that devour native fish populations wherever it invades.
Lionfish have no known predators because they do not belong in these waters. There is nothing here to eat them, and nothing to stop them from consuming all of South Florida’s reef fish. Lionfish were once among the top 10 imported tropical fish for aquariums, but when the lionfish grew too large aquarium owners began dumping the fish into the waters of the Atlantic. Now they are breeding at a pace so rapid that scientists and volunteers are feverishly trying to fight the invasion. To do this they are studying and collecting the lionfish, trying to eliminate a species now found in deep as well as shallow waters.
Dr. Mark A. Hixon, Professor of Zoology, and a team of graduate and undergraduate students from Oregon State University have demonstrated that a single lionfish can reduce the population of juvenile fish on small coral reefs by 80 percent in just five weeks. One large lionfish can consume 20 smaller coral reef fish in a 30-minute period. Lionfish are carnivores that can eat other fish up to two-thirds their own length. The loss of the herbivorous fish on the reefs will set the stage for seaweed to potentially overwhelm the coral reefs and disrupt the stability of the environment in which they exist. Once established lionfish will destroy our reefs and throw our entire ecosystem out of balance leaving our coral reefs to die and seaweed to take over.
Please help Vŏnē Research stop the invasion of this highly venomous species by supporting our efforts and this website… before it is too late!
- The average length of the Lionfish is 12 inches, but they can grow up to 15 inches long and weigh up to 2.6 pounds.
Lionfish reach sexual maturity within two years and spawn multiple times during each spawning season, producing up to 30,000 eggs.
Due to the rapid nature of the invasion of lionfish it must be realized that a complete eradication of the species is impossible, therefore a lionfish Management Plan needs to be devised and implemented to actively manage the amount of impact that lionfish will have in the Atlantic.
Help From Trackers
Vŏnē Research has recently starting working with dive boat operators to assist us and our partner organizations in one aspect of our lionfish Education, Management and Control Program. We are using them as trackers to report to us the GPS coordinates and reef locations where lionfish are spotted by their dive patrons.
Since venomous lionfish began invading the Cayman reefs back in 2008, divers were the only line of defense against them. However, groupers are now joining in on the fight. On Little Cayman, dive masters began feeding lionfish to groupers in hopes that the large fish would teach other groupers to do the same.
You can help us. Here’s how:
There are several ways that you can help control the lionfish population in South Florida.
If you have observed lionfish, please use our Report Form to help us record your findings.
Learn about proper observation, handling and cleaning procedures, and browse recipes.
Experienced divers, help us protect our precious South Florida coral reef ecosystem.
Educate others about the lionfish invasion. Share our website with your friends.