Big, Fat Lionfish

Written by on July 25, 2013 in Fish, Marine Life

Lionfish. Photo credit: Thomas.B.P. via photopin cc.

Last month, Expedition Lionfish discovered something disturbing. In the manned submersible Antipodes, researchers found that lionfish are still thriving at depths of 300 feet.

Lionfish are native to the Indo-Pacific and were accidentally released in the Atlantic sometime in the 1990s. Since then, their population has exploded because they have no natural predators and will eat just about anything smaller than them. They are already devastating native fish populations in Atlantic and Caribbean waters, and their ability to live so deep is raising new concerns about how to control this incredibly invasive species.

The main problem is that the lionfish found at greater depths were bigger and therefore capable of eating much more. Big fish are also generally capable of reproducing more than smaller ones. They are also harder to catch because divers and spearfishers can swim down there and we don’t yet have lionfish-specific traps.

We’ve already mentioned that lionfish aren’t picky eaters, but this still came as a surprise: lionfish are getting fat. And not just fat, according to James Morris, a lionfish expert at NOAA, they’re obese. In a feature for Slate, Morris shows how much fat can be found in a dissected lionfish. You can watch the video in the article to see more, but it’s a little icky.

So is there a solution to the lionfish problem? Experts say we should eat them.

To learn more:

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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