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Old 07-31-2007, 10:56 AM
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RickI RickI is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,682
Default Pacific Predator Invades Atlantic

We were free diving on a small sailboat wreck reportedly dating from the 1800's a few miles north of of North Bimini in the Western Bahamas yesterday. What should Dr. Denis, a Marine Biologist, see but a Pacific Red Lionfish, likely Pterois volitans. Denis and I grew up diving in Ft. Lauderdale.

It was a shocker to me having grown up seeing delicate images of Lionfish with the understanding that they were Pacific fish and never occurred in Atlantic waters. Denis had heard of other sightings in the Biminis in recently. I did a little searching and found out that the Red Lionfish has been sighted up and down the east coast of the USA including Florida as well as in various islands in the Western Bahamas. The Lionfish usually are found only in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Red Lionfish distribution per

The video clip of lionfish in Bimini and Andros appears on Vimeo appears below. I think the compression there results in clearer clips than on youtube.

The same clip of poorer image quality on youtube appears below. It is interesting what manual compression & processing will do for you.

I wasn't trying to disturb it unduly despite appearances.

Not being aware at the time of the degree of documentation already in place about the appearance of this species in foreign waters I made a point of showing off native species and biotope characteristics in the photo background. Not in the Pacific.

Lionfish congregate at times in their natural ranges. I don't know if this behavior has been observed in the Atlantic yet or not. Young lionfish have been seen going back years in this area suggesting that populations are reproducing. Some are aggressively harvesting (spearing) lionfish when found in Atantic waters in an effort to try to reduce potential ecological damage from this invasive species. It is possible that the lionfish has no predators in the Atlantic unlike in its home waters. It could do a lot of damage, largely unpredictable at this point. Shooting them may make sense.

More about the Lionfish and appearance in western Atlantic waters at:

And envenomations (it seems reasonable to want to see a doctor in any case if you are stung):

Get used to the sight and prepare to intercede with caution with these guys unless word to the contrary comes out.
Take comfort in this parting point, only about 140,000 pythons have been brought into the USA. Who knows how many have been released into the "wild." Man's stupidity and indifference at times can be overwhelming.

UW Photos by Rick Iossi
FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi

Last edited by RickI; 06-28-2019 at 10:43 AM.
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