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Lionfish Wiping Away Native Marine Life of Atlantic Ocean

Oct 22, 2013 09:06 AM EDT
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Lionfish
Pictured is a lionfish swims in a fish tank at a pet shop in Caracas September 7, 2010.
(Photo : REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins )

Lionfish have become a dominant species in the Atlantic Ocean and are now a threat to the native fish population.

CNN reports that the fish are receiving excess food and have started showing signs of liver disease. These fish don't have natural predators, except for humans.

This isn't the first time that the species are in the news. Recently, James Cook University researchers had found that red lionfish, the ghost fish of coral reefs, have taken over the Caribbean Ocean.

Lionfish (Pterois) is now one of the top predators in "many coral reef environments of the Atlantic." These fish are extremely popular as common aquarium fish, particularly in the U.S, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

A recent study had found that super-sized lionfish inhabit the deep-waters of the Atlantic oceans. Marine biologists reported seeing a considerable population of the fish even at depths of 300 feet.

The Lionfish are native to the Pacific Ocean and were accidentally introduced in the Atlantic Ocean during early 1990s. A related study by Oregon state University researchers had found that the lionfish have wiped out 80 percent of the native fish.

"The lionfish invasion is probably the worst environmental disaster the Atlantic will ever face," Graham Maddocks, president and founder of Ocean Support Foundation, told CNN.

The invasive species of fish are now present in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, South America and far north in Massachusetts as well as Bermuda Behavior, according to OSF website.

OSF is promoting killing lionfish and is even promoting their use as a food-source. The website says that the fish can be cooked like any other fish (after removing its stings) and is a good source of omega-3.

Recently, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission had announced that it would be changing laws to promote fishing of lionfish in the area.

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