Caribbean lionfish invasion

A new Reef Site in Coral Reefs (Green and Cote 2009)  describes the striking densities of non-native lionfish on coral reefs in the Bahamas.  Lionfish (Pterois volitans), a predator from the central and western Pacific ocean, were first sighted in 1992 off Florida and have been spreading rapidly throughout the Caribbean (USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database 2009).

Picture 574

Lionfish in the Bahamas. Photo credit Richard Carey

On deep offshore reefs off of North Carolina, they are now the second most abundant fish (Whitfield et al. 2007).


Mean lionfish and grouper abundances from 17 sites off NC, USA. (from Whitfield et al 2007).

From Green and Cote (2009): At three sites, each separated by more than 1 km, we found >390 lionfish per hectare (mean ± 1 SD; 393.3 ± 144.4 lionfish ha−1, n = 4 transects per site). These densities are more than 18 times higher than those reported by Whitfield et al. (2007) from invaded habitats off the coast of North Carolina, USA (21.2 ± 5.1 ha−1)… Caribbean sightings have now been confirmed as far west as Cuba and the Cayman Islands and southeast to St. Croix.


Read more about lionfish here


Green, S. J., and I. M. Cote. 2009. Record densities of Indo-Pacific lionfish on Bahamian coral reefs. Coral Reefs 28:107-107

Whitfield, P. E., J. A. Hare, A. W. David, S. L. Harter, R. C. Munoz, and C. M. Addison. 2007. Abundance estimates of the Indo-Pacific lionfish Pterois volitans/miles complex in the Western North Atlantic. Biological Invasions 9:53-64.

3 thoughts on “Caribbean lionfish invasion

  1. Lionfish now common in Cuba. Saw 8 on one dive off Playa Juragua (Santiago de Cuba). Six of them all at one time at about 130 ft depth on January 12, 2010.

  2. Pingback: Teaching Sharks to Eat Lionfish | SeaMonster

  3. Pingback: Why are lionfish populations exploding across the Caribbean? | SeaMonster

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