Scientists have confirmed that the hardy, Indo-Pacific fish that has invaded waters off the US East Coast and the Caribbean is now living deep in the Atlantic, possibly imperiling smaller fish there.
Nate Parsons/The Morning Journal/AP
An expedition down to the Atlantic depths has confirmed for the first time that the lionfish, an invasive species, is living there. The expedition verifies anecdotal evidence that the venomous animal is eluding eradication and imperiling native fish.
Last month, the first expedition to send a deep-diving submersible down to investigate the Atlantic Ocean lionfish invasion found at 300 feet deep large populations of the fish. Scientists believe that native fish are becoming lionfish prey, as the lionfish hunts any fish smaller than it, and are also losing out against the foreign fish in the competition for food.
“This data has confirmed for us that we have a problem there,” said Stephanie Green, lead scientist on the project and a postdoctoral associate at Oregon State University’s Hixon Lab, noting that researchers are still investigating the exact scale of the issue. “This is the first time we’ve had a look at what the problem is in deep depths – it’s the next frontier in this study.”