A global community of nature enthusiasts
photographing and learning about wildlife
The lionfish has a beautifully banded head and body with reddish or golden brown bands stretching across a yellow background. The dorsal and anal fins possess dark rows of spots on a clear background.
Tom Owens Cay, Belize
Lionfish in the Atlantic are termed invasive species: a non-native organism that has intruded into an area and may have serious detrimental effects on native organisms, the local economy and human health. Lionfish are voracious predators and are taking the already threatened Caribbean reefs by storm. Lionfish are non-selective feeders, and with virtually no natural enemies in the tropical western Atlantic they've invited themselves to an all you can eat seafood buffet. Lionfish have been observed consuming 20 small fish in a 30-minute period and prey up to 2/3rd of their own length. Impressively, their stomachs can expand up to 30 times their normal size after a meal. Mark Hixon et al (2009) determined that a single lionfish can reduce juvenile fish populations by 79% in just 5 weeks.